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Ape-ocalypse: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Review

dawn_of_the_planet_of_the_apes

1968’s Planet of the Apes is one of my favorite sci-fi films of all time.  While most of the sequels haven’t lived up to the quality of the first film, including its first reboot…

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

This was the first Tim Burton movie I didn’t like.  Honestly Tim, what were you thinking?

… I would still say that the original film holds up extremely well.  The acting, the writing and even the make-up are still impressive by today’s standards.  That’s probably the only good thing I can say about the 2001 reboot; at least the make-up looked good.  So when they decided to reboot the franchise again in 2011, I was a touch leery.  I’m thankful to say that Rise of the Planet of the Apes far exceeded my expectations.  It wasn’t a perfect film, by any means, but if you’re going to update this franchise, I think they handled it as best as anyone could.  As I made my way in to see Dawn of the Planet of the Apes–and by the way, I’m the only one who had trouble remembering which new movie had which title?–my expectations were higher this time.  Happily, I think Hollywood may be learning how to improve upon their sequels.  (See X-Men: Days of Future Past, Captain America: Winter Soldier and How to Train Your Dragon 2 for examples from this year.)  Yes, they might be out of ideas, but at least they’re finding ways to tell these familiar stories in an interesting way.

But you’re most likely tired of me beating around the bush and want me to tell you what’s good or not good about this movie.  Most of what I have to say about this movie is good.

Matt Reeves, whom you might’ve heard of from directing Felicity and Cloverfield (no, J.J. Abrams only produced it), did a great job.  He kept the story pretty focused and put the bookends on the movie that were as wonderful as they were simple.  The movie tends to drag whenever the focus is on the humans, but fortunately, they aren’t given quite as much attention as the apes, which is good because they’re far more engaging characters.  The only reason I can fathom why Keri Russell is in this movie is because she’s worked with the director.  Her character contributes little to nothing to the overall story, and whenever she does anything, it’s very wooden and disengaged from the situation, and that can take you out of the movie in a millisecond since you no longer believe what’s happening on the screen.  Personally, I wouldn’t have minded if humans were written out of the story completely because the apes were all strong enough to carry the film on their own, but lackluster as they were, most of the human characters served their purpose well enough and didn’t ruin the movie.

If the Academy doesn’t find some way to honor Andy Serkis next year, they clearly don’t know what good acting is.  Andy shows once again that he is a master of his craft and any aspiring actor should pay attention to this man’s work.  As much as I wish they would stop relying so heavily on CGI and just get some make-up and costumes in front of the camera, the CGI artists did a fantastic job of capturing Andy’s performance and relaying it back to the audience.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

You snubs us, Precious!

My only major complaint really is on the human characters.  They’re just not developed, and you don’t care what happens to them.  Amazingly, you’ll find yourself caring a lot about what happens to the apes, and you’ll be able to relate to them more.  All that was accomplished without half the lines of dialogue the humans had.  Many people say that less is more (less = more), but when it comes to movies, I think the equation is more like this: less > more.

I won’t say anything else about it because this movie deserves to be seen in theaters, and ergo, I would be remiss if I spoiled it for you.  So what if it’s another Hollywood sequel of a re-rebooted franchise that relies too heavily on CGI?  They made it work, and you should see it!

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