The new “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” isn’t connected in any concrete way to the original five film series that ran from 1968 to 1973 or Tim Burton’s reboot from 2001. But even though “Rise” establishes its own, new continuity (of the apes), it still contains a ton of references, shout-outs and easter eggs to its old school brethren (or simian, in this case). Here are all the ones this long-time “Ape” fan caught. And be aware that this piece may contains extensive SPOILERS for every film in the series.
1. Character Names (of the Apes)
Most of the main cast of “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” are named with a wink to the past. The leader of the ape rebellion, Caesar (Andy Serkis) shares his moniker with the similar character, played by Roddy McDowell, from “Conquest of” and “Battle For the Planet of the Apes.” Scientists at the GenSys lab nickname Caesar’s mother Bright Eyes — which was one of the ape’s nickname for Charlton Heston‘s Taylor in the original “Planet of the Apes.” After Caesar is sent to live in an ape sanctuary, he’s repeatedly abused by a guard named Dodge Landon, an amalgam of the names of two of Taylor’s fellow astronauts, Dodge (Jeff Burton) and Landon (Robert Gunner), from “Planet of the Apes.” And the lone female ape at the sanctuary is named Cornelia, a riff on Roddy McDowell’s character Cornelius in “Planet of the Apes” and “Escape From the Planet of the Apes.”
There are even a few names that recall the creators of the first “Apes” series: James Franco‘s Will Rodman takes his name from “Twilight Zone” creator and “Planet of the Apes” co-screenwriter Rod Serling, whose full first name was Rodman. Will’s boss at GenSys is Steven Jacobs (David Oyelowo), a nod to franchise producer Arthur P. Jacobs. Caesar strikes up a friendship with an orangutan named Maurice — an homage to actor Maurice Evans, who played the sinister orangutan Dr. Zaius in the first “Planet of the Apes.”
2. Famous Lines (of the Apes)
If some of the dialogue in “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” sounded familiar, there’s a reason for that. Several of the big zingers are taken from the 1968 “Planet of the Apes.” Listen carefully for Dodge to shout “It’s a madhouse!” during one moment of ape rebellion: that’s an echo of an identical exclamation by Chuck Heston when some apes spray him with a fire hose (more on that later). Dodge also gets the honor of reciting one of Heston’s most iconic lines, when he yells “Take your stinking paws off me you damn dirty ape!” after Caesar confronts him in a hand-to-paw fight.
In response, Caesar screams “NO!” — his first words — and smacks Dodge in the face. This might be a stretch but Caesar’s “NO!” reminds me of the repeated uses of the same word in “Conquest of the Planet of the Apes,” where apes are trained to be slaves in a dystopian future, and are conditioned with electroshock therapy to fear and hate when a human says the words no.
3. Recurring Motifs (of the Apes)
A few of “Rise”‘s signature images have earlier origins as well. The aforementioned fire hose makes a return appearance, when Dodge sprays Caesar with one after he throws his food in the guard’s face. So does the sight of an ape on horseback (mirroring the famous introduction of the “Planet of the Apes”‘ titular stars in this brilliant scene) when Caesar leads a charge against the San Francisco police atop one of the mounted cops’ ride.
Of course, the most famous visual from “Planet of the Apes” is that legendary twist ending that reveals the decayed ruins of the Statue of Liberty. “Rise” is set in San Francisco so we didn’t get to see the real Statue, but in the scene where Caesar watches John Lithgow’s Charles Rodman get attacked by an angry neighbor, the chimp is playing with a Statue of Liberty toy. It’s a cute reference, but the timing of the Statue’s appearance in this particular scene is also a clever bit of foreshadowing. During this sequence Caesar leaps to Charles’ defense and gets into a fight with the angry neighbor. That leads directly to the chimp’s imprisonment, which leads directly to his ape uprising. So you could say that the entire rise of the planet of the apes — the death of a whole species and the ascendancy of another — dates back to this singular moment. And in that singular moment, director Rupert Wyatt inserts this brilliant reference to the single image most associated with the “Planet of the Apes.” In other words, it all started here. It’s a nice touch.
4. Space Flight (of the Apes)
While events surrounding Will and Caesar continue in the foreground of “Rise,” the media makes several background references to a spaceship named Icarus. A briefly glimpsed news report announces “Icarus Entering Mars Atmosphere” and a few scenes later, a copy of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the same vessel was “Lost in Space.” In the ’68 “Apes,” the Icarus is the ship that Taylor, Landon, and Dodge take to the year 3978; two movies later it’s also the ship Cornelius, Zira (Kim Hunter), and Milo (Sal Mineo) take back to 1973. If we get direct sequels to “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” you can expect to see more of that spacecraft.
5. Charlton Heston (of the Apes)
The man, the myth, the grumpy, sweaty, intensely-tanned, loincloth-wearing legend makes a very brief cameo, on a television screen at the ape sanctuary. Regrettably, no one says they’ll only change the channel when they pry the remote control their cold, dead hands.