19. Rise of the Planet of the Apes
One of the most surprisingly good movies of 2011, Rise of the Planet of the Apes snuck up on just about every one who saw the trailers and passed it off as another uninspired reboot. Instead what we got was one of the most character driven and intelligent blockbusters of the last few years, one with a story, heart, and one of the most impressive mo-cap performances of all time from Andy Serkis. Rise of the Planet of the Apes tells the origin story that results in the takeover of Earth by apes that forms the basis of the original 1968 classic. An ape named Caesar is adopted by a scientist and inherits high intelligence as a result of genetic experiments done on his mother. As Caesar grows smarter, it becomes harder and harder for the scientist to care for him and eventually he is placed in a primate shelter. Caesar develops more than anyone could imagine and uses his abilities to steal new medication developed by his owner in order to give them the same level of intelligence. With a smart screenplay, terrific performances, and a sure directorial touch, Rise of the Planet of the Apes is one of the finer sci-fi films of the millennium as well as one of the better blockbusters in recent times, one of the few that is more devoted to characters and ideas than action.