Sunday, July 20, 2014

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Last night I had the opportunity to see Dawn of the Planet of the Apes starring Gary Oldman, Jason Clarke, and Keri Russell, with Andy Serkis portraying the movements and expressions of Caesar. I remember being a small child the first time I saw the original Planet of the Apes film. I was so astonished, I think I even asked my dad if it was real; if there were really talking monkeys in the world. Over the years, I've seen the originals many times, but I don't think I've seen all of them.

I've been waiting for this film for a long time. It's a well orchestrated sequel to 2011's Rise of the Planet of the Apes. (Although I still don't see where Tim Burton's 2001 Planet of the Apes works. I mean, how does that story fit into these stories. It's kind of like Batman (1989) and The Dark Knight Trilogy, only less connectable. I still love it, but it doesn't work with the other movies.)

In Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the story finds us ten years after the human-created virus in San Francisco with Caesar leading a group of talking sentient apes. The city is without power, which means no iPhones....or TV, or radio, or even lights. I won't spoil it, but the story is basically about the tense interactions between the destitute humans and the apes. And unless you've never seen ANY Planet of the Apes movie, you know what that's about:  the apes hate the humans because the humans mistreated the apes systemically.

In the original Planet of the Apes series, civil rights issues of 60s were woven into the story. Humans enslaved the apes. The apes rose up and freed themselves, and relations between the apes and humans were categorically unstable. In Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, it was more about animal rights with a side order of gun control. But the theme was still the same; humans were the bad guys, for the most part. Nonetheless, just as interesting to see art imitating life.

All of the apes were computer generated. There was no make-up and costumes like in Tim Burton's version, which means that the film is heavily dependent on CGI. All in all, I think it was a good movie, but probably not one I would watch over and over. In a general sense, I was not overly impressed with the film. For the most part, I think they pretty much did what everyone else is doing, that is, there was nothing really spectacular that stood out for me.

IMDb gave this movie 8.4 stars. I would give it a maximum of 6 on a day when I'm feeling really good. I would probably recommend waiting for the onDemand or DVD release on this one. Just another post-apocalyptic story, sans zombies. If there were zombies I'd have given it 4 stars. Zombies are white noise. Apes were an improvement.