Imagine A Gritty Reboot Of 'Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes' Based On 'Project Nim'

Two movies about the dangers of experimenting with chimpanzees are out in theaters right now, the Sci-Fi, mega blockbuster “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” and the science documentary about the first chimpanzee to learn sign language, “Project Nim,” by the team that made “Man on Wire.” If you have the option, I highly recommend watching “Project Nim” before you watch “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.”

Project Nim, seems in many ways like a gritty reboot of “ROTPOTA.” There’s no super serum, smart apes or a virus that we all understand is destined to destroy humanity in “Project Nim,” but in spite of that, the movies share a remarkable number of elements in common. I found that these common elements created a kind of shadow film while watching “ROTPOTA” that made the film much more ominous. Imagine if these aspects of “ROTPOTA” had be swapped out for the darker, true life details from “Project Nim”. SPOILERS lie ahead.


ROTPOTA: Good looking scientist with a heart of gold works tirelessly for a cure for his father’s Alzteimer’s disease.


Replace that with…

Project Nim: Careless, fame seeking scientist who sleeps with his impressionable young assistants and only seems to care for his chimpanzee as a prop to use to put himself in the spotlight.



As a Baby Chimpanzee

ROTPOTA: Ceasar seems to live in a baby chimpanzee paradise with educated, engaged caretakers who treat him like a son, but are also aware of his chimpanzee status.


Replace that with…

Project Nim: Nim is raised by idealistic, self proclaimed hippies who breast feed him, let him smoke pot and quite frankly don’t seem to know what they are doing.



As an Adolescent Chimpanzee

ROTPOTA: When Caesar becomes an adolescent, he has a violent confrontation with the next door neighbor as a result of fear and misunderstanding. Although Caesar throttles the neighbor, he restrains himself before inflicting serious damage. He is punished regardless.


Replace that with…

Project Nim: When Nim becomes an adolescent, he attacks his young hippie handlers without warning or provocation, at one point biting a hole through his caretaker’s cheek. Nim receives no real punishment for his attacks as they understand this kind of behavior is normal for young, male chimps.


The Caged Life

ROTPOTA: Although he must deal with bullys of both the chimp and human variety, Caesar enjoys a playground, companionship and sunlight. Do-gooder scientist James Franco never stops visiting him with promises that he is fighting to get Caesar out and back to the good life.


Replace that with…

Project Nim: After learning sign language and spending his life amongst humans, Nim is sold for experiments and endures extreme isolation, abandoned by all his former caretakers.




Now imagine that Nim was super smart and led an intelligent ape uprising. Holy moly, that would be a bloodbath. It would change the film into an “Old Boy” style revenge flick. I enjoyed “ROTPOTA,” but man that is a film I’d love to see.