Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Inciting Event: After the baby chimp’s mother is killed after escaping the lab where he’s working on a cure for Alzheimer’s, Will brings the chimp home and adopts him—and names him Caesar. In many ways, this is the beginning of the Normal World that is being established in the First Act. This Normal World continues for several years, as Caesar grows and becomes more and more intelligent.

First Plot Point: Years later, Caesar is now grown. When Will’s Alzheimer’s-ridden father gets into an altercation with the nasty neighbor, Caesar attacks the neighbor in defense of the father—and bites off the man’s finger. He is taken away from Will and sent to an ape “sanctuary,” where he must both adapt to the harsh lifestyle and the company of other monkeys. Although this occurs a little later than the 25% mark, this is clearly the First Plot Point, since it marks Caesar’s departure from his Normal World into the main conflict of the Second Act.

First Pinch Point: Released for the first time into the atrium with the other apes, Caesar is immediately singled out by the alpha male Rocket and attacked. He flees, but feels even more isolated. Meanwhile, back at the lab, Will is beginning testing on a new form of the brain-boosting serum (with which Caesar’s mother had been injected while he was in utero and which Will used to temporarily cure his father). His lab assistant Hamilton is accidentally exposed—and begins experiencing alarming symptoms.

Midpoint: After meeting the Orangutan Maurice—who also knows sign language and who warns Caesar that humans don’t like smart apes—Caesar begins enacting his plan to help all the apes escape. He gets first the gorilla Buck and then Rocket to acknowledge him as the new alpha. Back the lab, Will decides to quit the company after the greedy CEO accelerates the testing to unsafe levels.

Second Pinch Point: After refusing to go home with Will, Caesar steals Will’s aerosol formula and exposes all the apes to it—enhancing their intelligence. He accelerates his plan to escape with the apes. This is obviously a positive turning point for Caesar, so we find the impetus of the pinch left to the indication that Hamilton is becoming egregiously ill.

Third Plot Point: In a battle with the guards, Caesar speaks for the first time—then kills the guards and frees all the apes. Again, the overall impetus is positive here: Caesar advances still more in his intelligence growth and the apes all escape. The low emotional point is largely understated: you can see in Caesar’s eyes the line he has just crossed in killing the guard. He has chosen the apes over the humans—whom he has loved and lived with all his life.

Climax: After freeing apes from the lab and the zoo, Caesar leads his new army across the Golden Gate Bridge in an attempt to gain sanctuary in the Redwood Forest. The police muster all their forces to try to stop them, even as Will rushes to try to help Caesar.

Climactic Moment: The overall conflict ends and Ceasar reaches his goal in the one-two punch of Buck’s taking out the helicopter and then the apes all arriving at the Redwoods. But since the overarching story here is the emotional one of Caesar’s relationship with Will, the true Climactic Moment comes when Caesar tells Will he is home and Will agrees to let Caesar stay.

Resolution: The epidemic begins to spread.

Sign Up Today

hwba sidebar pic

Sign up to receive K.M. Weiland’s e-letter and receive her free e-book Crafting Unforgettable Characters: A Hands-On Introduction to Bringing Your Characters to Life.