Thursday, July 24, 2014

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: A Review

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Directed By: Matt Reeves
Written By: Mark Bomback and Rick Jaffa
Rated: PG-13
Time: 130 min
Starring: Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Toby Kebbell, and Kodi Smit-McPhee Plot: A growing nation of genetically evolved apes led by Caesar is threatened by a band of human survivors of the devastating virus unleashed a decade earlier. They reach a fragile peace, but it proves short-lived, as both sides are brought to the brink of a war that will determine who will emerge as Earth's dominant species.

Comments: I never saw the point to the original Planet of the Apes movies and then the reboot made me fall in love with an ape named Caesar. I absolutely loved the reboot (it made me cry), so when I started seeing trailers for the sequel, admittedly I was excited. And yet at the same time, I didn’t want it. Because we all know in order for the Planet of the Apes to wind up with humanity enslaved, Caesar either needs to die or he no longer is a good man. And damn it I love Caesar.

It has been a decade since the first film. The simian flu has wiped out most of the human population and riots and more took out a good portion of the rest. Now humans live in small little communities searching for a way to regain what they’ve lost. The apes have been surviving as well. They hunt, they learn, and they have built a community and a family. Both humans and apes want to protect what they have. But they also want more.

This is a movie that has a ton of themes. It is about family, about a father and son’s relationship, apes versus humans, good men versus evil men, war, peer pressure, belonging, misunderstandings, ethnocentrism, adaptation, and so much more. But it never really holds onto any of these for very long and so while the film was entertaining and again I really liked it, it lacked the depth of the first film for me. But I do like human issues seen through the eyes of the apes.

Joining Caesar are Koba and Maurice from the first film. Seriously the motion capture is impressive. Andy Serkis is amazing as per usual, but there is top notch work being done here. There are a few scenes where the CGI is easy to spot and almost ridiculous in nature compared to the rest of the film, but it really is beautiful to watch. And sad…so sad. We all know where the films are going and part of me cannot bear to watch. I don’t want to see Maurice hurt or Blue Eyes or Caesar. I want them to live happily ever after. But we know that isn’t going to happen.

War is inevitable because let’s face it human beings are not going to live peacefully with apes who ride horses and can use guns. We’re too arrogant and cannot have anyone steal our “we’re unique” thunder. The war theme shows all sides though and I enjoyed that. Malcolm (Jason Clarke whom I really enjoyed ) and Caesar (Andy Serkis) do not want war. They want to protect their families and give them the best life that they can. Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) and Koba (Toby Kebbel) do because they see the other side as inferior. But Malcolm and Caesar know that war means no one truly wins. The losses will be great and nothing will ever be the same.

Yet Dreyfus and Koba aren’t truly bad guys. Dreyfus lost his entire family to the Simian Flu and though the apes were not responsible for the flu a grieving man who is bitter and angry would see them as the enemy. Koba, on the other hand, has nothing but mistrust for humans. His scars are a testament to his time in captivity where he was experimented on. Trust resulted in blind eyes and wounds. He can never trust humans again because he knows if they do humans would rather put them back into cages. They will never be seen as equals. These shades of gray make everyone relatable even if you are rooting for the protagonists.

There are a few laughable stereotypes though. Carver is ridiculous in his one dimensional villain-ness. He kills an ape at the beginning and then they bring him back to the apes home (with some flimsy excuse that he knows the dam better than most) even though he is the one who caused all this tension in the first place. He then smuggles in a gun, ruthlessly tries to hurt Caesar’s newborn son…come on, really? There is no way any coherent being would bring him along. Not when you are trying to prove you are trustworthy.

Rent/Cinema? Cinema. The CGI is breathtaking and if you liked Rise then you will enjoy this one as well.

4/4 popcorns

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