The original 1968 Planet of the Apes attempted (somewhat clunkily in retrospect) to speak to the politics of its time - particularly the ongoing civil rights struggles in the US. Rise of the Planet of the Apes - not so much remake as re-imagined prequel - more cannily embodies and plays out a more viscerally destructive politics: the refusal of cooperation - and even love - in a world structurally predicated on species difference and exploitation. Ape leader Caesar's incremental "NOs" finalize in a rejection of the possibility of love between masters (humans) and captors (apes) but this series of refusals also begins to construct a revolutionary solidarity among the apes.
Director Rupert Wyatt does a nice job of projecting the film's human personalities as monochromatic 'types' (including James Franco's protagonist - perhaps the most sympathetic of the humans, but also perhaps the most capable of betrayal), while drawing out layers of personality, depth and passion in the apes (who - apart from Caesar - hardly speak). The film's final battle along the Golden Gate Bridge is cinematically stunning but also politically inspired as a representation of strategic resistance. Rise's release coincided with the summer 2011 UK riots and Occupy's global eruption was just around the corner. Rise is certainly special in that it reflected and challenged its historical moment - but it is Caesar's equation of "home" with permanent revolution that underscores the truly radical power of the film.