Unlocking the Cage (2016)


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Unlocking the Cage follows animal rights lawyer Steven Wise in his unprecedented challenge to break down the legal wall that separates animals from humans. Arguing that cognitively complex animals such as chimpanzees, whales, dolphins and elephants have the capacity for limited personhood rights, Steve and his legal team are making history by filing the first lawsuits that seek to transform a chimpanzee from a "thing" with no rights to a "person" with legal protections. Unlocking the Cage captures a monumental shift in our culture, as the public and judicial system show increasing receptiveness to Steve's impassioned arguments. It is an intimate look at a lawsuit that could forever transform our legal system, and one man's lifelong quest to protect "nonhuman" animals.

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Critic Reviews for Unlocking the Cage

All Critics (38) | Top Critics (15)

For those less familiar with her life, Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise should serve as a bracing introduction, and as an inducement to dive into her prose, poetry and speeches.

Feb 21, 2017 | Full Review…
Top Critic

At a time when so many cinematic arguments are cast in black-and-white terms, tipping the scales in one direction, it's refreshing to see one that's content to present a case that leaves room for several shades of gray.

Feb 21, 2017 | Full Review…
Top Critic

The powerful filmmaking duo of Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker somehow turn Wise's quest into a compelling and noble tale, no matter what your thoughts are on the views presented.

Aug 19, 2016 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

The picture is essentially a brief for Wise's case. And as such, it's as dry and uncinematic as a dusty legal document.

Jul 7, 2016 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

Makes a worthy case for reconsidering the sturdiness of laws that explicitly separate humans from animals.

Jun 23, 2016 | Full Review…

It's a tricky narrative challenge to shift from inherently compelling wildlife scenes to abstract courtroom debate, but the film manages it capably, even spicing things up with one justice's admonition that Wise needs to cut his slavery analogies.

Jun 23, 2016 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
Boston Globe
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