I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

tn_dotpotaReview of the Movie of The Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

When there’s no more room in Hell, the apes will ride the horses. This new PLANET OF THE APES series has decided to start titling in Romerical order, so #2 is DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. Sounds good, but since they’ve used the title we can now rule out a future chapter with apes living in an abandoned shopping mall and then they get attacked by biker apes. Also, if this is DAWN OF THE then where is the Hare Krishna ape?

2011’s RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES was exciting because it looked like a total joke and then it caught me with its touching and nuanced story of the super-intelligent ape Caesar, wedged inside a dumb sci-fi story with one dimensional human characters. DAWN loses the advantage of surprise but gains the advantage of building off the first one to create a way better movie. They wisely skip ahead 10 years to when the human population has been decimated by the virus and Caesar has led the apes to build a village in the Redwoods. They’re nearing an Ewok level of advancement with wooden treehouses and spears, war paint, a few crowns and jewels made of teeth. No hoods or hang gliders yet.

The apes haven’t seen any humans in two years, but it turns out there’s a few hundred or thousand virus-immune survivors living in a walled off part of San Francisco. The two tribes cross paths only when the humans have to pass through the woods to fix a hydro-electric dam that could save them from the impending doom of running out of fuel.

Both sides are scared of each other, and with good reason. The adult apes have all experienced a world where they’re subservient to humans, and the humans have not experienced a world where apes ride on horses and know how to talk! They’re scared but to be honest this movie is kind of unrealistic that they don’t all run away screaming and peeing and shitting all over themselves when they first encounter these bastards. PG-13 compromise I guess.

mp_dotpotaAbout the talking. I was a little worried because RISE had a good build up to Caesar learning to speak, if I remember right, one word. Mostly he communicated in sign language. The speaking worked in that one but if part two has them all talking to each other is it going to seem too silly? Luckily they’re taking baby steps, so they still mostly sign, but can slowly speak simple words to humans or to each other for emphasis. I’m sure by part 5 they’ll be speaking soliloquies and rapping and shit but it’ll work because of the lobster slowly boiling theory.

Once they know about each other, both the apes and the humans have factions that believe they have to wipe the other side out to be safe. But Malcolm (Jason Clarke, the monkey loving interrogator from ZERO DARK THIRTY) wants to peacefully negotiate passage, and is reluctantly given three days by ex-military human leader Dreyfus (Gary Oldman). Caesar tries to work with him for the good of both sides (despite dissension from a close friend and even his own son Blue Eyes).

Poor Malcolm is constantly having to apologize – Sorry about before, sorry I came here again, sorry this asshole I brought with me broke your rules. He keeps putting himself at spear and gorilla-fist-point trying to do the right thing, and admirably never resorts to the expected “You have to believe me! Those other guys are gonna come in here and kill you if you don’t let us do this!” tactic.

The best part of RISE was when Caesar got locked in the ape sanctuary and it became a prison movie with subtitled sign language dialogue and Caesar having to outsmart the other apes, become their leader and spark a revolution. The “why cookie rocket” section. DAWN has far more ape interaction, starting with a long human-free opening that sets you up to side with the apes, not the fleshies. I love that the apes Caesar broke out in RISE are now his closest advisors. Alot of my favorite moments in the movie have to do with the strong relationships that started in RISE and clearly grew over the ten years of founding a civilization together.

Koba (the scary looking scarfaced lab chimp) and Maurice (the ex-circus orangutan) steal the movie in all their scenes. The three of them have a very human dynamic that I love, old firends aware of each other’s quirks, but never forgetting all that they’ve been through together. When Koba fumes at Caesar’s trust of the humans he also brings up his own debt to him. When Maurice talks about how angry Koba is there’s an unspoken “You know how he is. But he’s our friend.”

(I have to admit though, I could rarely figure out which one was Rocket.)

My favorite scene in the whole thing is a quiet conversation early on, before the humans even come. Caesar and Maurice look at what used to be San Francisco and talk about “them” and if they’re really gone. In the spaces between their thoughts is the heaviness of what they’re discussing: the potential extinction of the planet’s dominant species in favor of their own.

The actual human characters never seem as full of life and personality as the apes. Surprisingly, Keri Russell (who director Matt Reeves first worked with on a television show he co-created called Felicity, according to what I’ve read) doesn’t get to play much more than Frieda Pinto’s caring girlfriend character in the first one. She definitely gives a good performance and her character provides a few crucial services but she has more scenes of coming in with a dish of food and a concerned look than she deserves.

But they’re an improvement from RISE. Even the antagonist and the biggest asshole character have understandable motives, they’re not needlessly douchey like the next-door-neighbor or boss characters from before. And there’s at least one great scene for the humans: the one where (SPOILERISH?) the electricity comes on and they hear what must be their first recorded music in many years, and they laugh and nod their heads. (An ape that’s with them just looks confused.)

It’s one of those moments of simple joy where you can imagine how great it would feel, no matter your feelings on “The Weight” by The Band. It almost wouldn’t matter what the song was, it could be “Who Let the Dogs Out” or “Songbird” by Kenny G, it would still be a great moment I think. The only thing bad would be like if it was some kind of primate related lyric like “Shock the Monkey” or something that would offend the apes and make everybody super uncomfortable.

Later we see that back at the colony everyone is celebrating the lights coming on by dancing. It’s a similar concept to the dancing in THE MATRIX RELOADED, but Reeves must’ve known about my wallflower theory so he left that scene silent, no music, to avoid nerd reprisals. (According to my politically incorrect theory, the geek community savaged THE MATRIX RELOADED and SPIDER-MAN 3 extra hard because they are instinctively afraid of participating in school dances.)

As much as it’s the humanity/apeity that makes the movie special, it also has some big crazy shit that almost had me giggling like a nincompoop. This is a serious movie with lots of drama and tension but also it has (spoiler?) an ape riding a horse firing off two machine guns. With fire behind him. In 3-D. When the shit goes down in this one it goes down harder than last time. It’s dark, things are burning, there are way more apes, they have tools, they have guns. It’s like a nightmare. I was able to experience a good cinematic cocktail of dread that things are getting worse for these characters and giddiness that some insane mayhem is about to go down.

(By the way, did anybody catch if they had stables for the horses? I gotta wonder how well they’re able to take care of them. Are they able to re-shoe them?)

When somebody in this movie is doing something he shouldn’t be doing it’s still fun to watch because he’s an ape! That’s different from other movies, which are almost always about non-apes doing stuff they shouldn’t do. And there’s a scene where an ape has to act like a dumb ape – scratching his armpits, mugging, shuckin and jivin – to get the humans to let their guard down. It’s both degrading and machiavellian, like Samuel L. Jackson’s character Stephen in DJANGO UNCHAINED. It’s such great acting when he’s apin’ it up and then he turns his back and has this look of disgust on his face. You dumb motherfuckers.

Every once in a while during this movie I would think Holy shit, we take it for granted that effects are this good now. Admittedly they’re not flawless. There’s a bear (Tom Hanks) that looks a little off, and you know, there’s something odd about Caesar sometimes, especially his body. I think it’s that he’s more human than all the other characters. He has more human expressions and he likes to stand in human hero poses. But for the most part you just accept these apes as reality, you don’t even think about that all of the characters are actually Andy Serkis and Tom Hanks with a bunch of ping pong balls glued to their underwear that are plugged into a giant super computer in New Zealand and somebody just pushes a button and the movie pops out (note to self: verify tech details). Serkis (who gets top billing!) gets all the acclaim for playing Caesar, but I was even more impressed by Toby Kebbell (the guy I thought was actually mentally challenged in his first movie DEAD MAN’S SHOES) and his animators as Koba. That’s a character with alot of layers to him, scary and angry and calculating, but also likable.

(SPOILERS OF THE PLANET OF THE APES IN THIS PARAGRAPH) I felt betrayed by him because I really liked him as Caesar’s reliable muscle, and even when he turns it seems like he’s doing what he thinks is right for the apes. But then putting his arm around Ash, pretending to reassure him, is a straight up bully move. I’m disappointed in you, Koba. You know the end? I don’t think they showed the body. I actually think it would be cool if they cheat in a future one and say he survived, as long as they don’t make him the antagonist when he comes back. He takes some people who agree with him and starts a small splinter group somewhere and when Caesar runs into him again years later he just wants to put all that stuff behind him.

The original PLANET OF THE APES movies always spoke in some way to the issues of the times they were made in. I still think RISE’s “science is dangerous” theme is way too generic to qualify. On the other hand I think this one works just by being such a timeless issue. You could compare the false pretenses that start this war to Bush and his WMDs, or the actual motive of repairing the dam to securing the oil wells in Iraq. Or you could compare it to pretty much any other war of the past or future. There are always wars being fought, always points of view on both sides that can’t really be reconciled. Through this fantasy scenario we can see how both sides have legitimate reasons to fear, both sides have one person making mistakes that the rest of the group have to live with the consequences of, both sides don’t know how to back down, even though both have factions genuinely looking for a peaceful solution. It’s the spectacle of a battle that we know shouldn’t be fought. Both sides are wrong, so we can’t root for one to win. We can only root for the small group of apes and humans working together to stop the fighting.

I love that it’s not about Caesar trying to prove that apes deserve respect, that just goes without saying. And it’s not about Caesar learning that some humans are good, he already learned that from his friend James Franco. This is about him learning that some apes can be as bad as a fucking human.

Caesar is the hero and a great leader, but he’s also flawed. He’s kinda full of shit sometimes. In that scene I liked so much where he and Maurice are talking about humans maybe being extinct he says that they did it to themselves. What he doesn’t mention is that he helped them along by stealing their virus and spreading it around in a terrorist attack! I guess he just thought he was making apes smart, not killing off the humans. But then, the humans thought they were just curing Alzheimers.

When papa Franco’s home videos make an appearance it might be a little too heavy of a callback for some people, but most of the RISE references deepen the effectiveness of the scenes. For example the part where a symbol is drawn and we know that the apes who see it will know its significance. Or at the climax (YES, ANOTHER END SPOILER COMING UP) when Caesar finds himself holding Koba’s hand as he hangs over a precipice. This is a reflection of the scene in RISE where Koba has the asshole boss (David Oyewolo) hanging from the Golden Gate Bridge, and Caesar could spare him but instead turns his back, knowing that Koba will drop the doctor to his death. In DAWN’s situation with Koba he makes the same decision, but he does it himself, he takes the responsibility. So… in a way he’s a growing. But the thing he chooses to learn from these events is not very enlightened. He goes from wanting peace to accepting that some apes have to be killed.

That’s the thing, he’s still kinda scary, and still kind of an animal. This is clear when he deals with Koba’s questioning him by beating him up and forcing him to do his little hand petting gesture that means “yes, you are the alpha-ape and I am your bitch.” We shouldn’t forget that that’s how he became their leader. Not by earning their trust. He only did that later.

We like Caesar even though we fuckin know he’s gonna be trouble for us.

This is a good fuckin movie. You’ll go ape for it as well as bananas this is no monkey business because monkeys have tails and apes don’t it’s two separate branches of primates get it straight people. I don’t mean to burst your Bubbles, but DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES takes a right turn Clyde for the series, becoming the lancelot link between thoughtful sci-fi allegory and ludicrous fun. Swing by (on a vine or tire swing) to see the chimpion of summer movies!

Reeves is a good director. Obviously he’s best known for co-writing UNDER SIEGE 2: DARK TERRITORY with Richard Hatem and for whatever that Keri Russell show was that he co-created, if that’s true that there ever was such a show, I don’t have time to look it up right now. But CLOVERFIELD was pretty clever and I really liked LET ME IN, his remake of LET THE RIGHT ONE IN. I don’t think alot of people gave it a chance because of being a gratuitous Americanization of a recent, beloved foreign film, but he directed the shit out of it, I thought it was great. So I’m not surprised he pulled this one off and I’m glad he’s (as of now anyway) doing the next one. Can’t wait for SHAUN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES or whatever they end up calling it.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Monday, July 14th, 2014 at 1:58 am and is filed under Reviews, Science Fiction and Space Shit. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

42 Responses to “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”

  1. I thought this was pretty good too but one thing that annoyed me was that the chimpanzees all got to have girlfriends but all of the orangutans were flying solo? Like yes they have red hair and they’re a bit husky and they swap comic books with teenagers…are they not still deserving of love?? Also this “Planet of the Apes” doesn’t seem to include gibbons or bonobos for some reason. Maybe in the next movie they could have bonobos in zoo cages and little gorilla children and their parents could come watch them play on tire swings and shit in their hands etc. Political commentary! These are all things I thought while watching this movie. Good movie though!

  2. What would the Action Comprehensibility Rating be for this one? Or is it not “that kind” of movie? Please don’t chimp on the details.

  3. Comment On The Review Of The Movie Of The Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes

    Admit it, you started to write the 2nd to last paragraph as soon as the movie was announced.

  4. Great review Vern. Just got home from seeing this and although I really enjoyed it as it was playing out it’s already starting to grow in esteem the more I think about it and discuss it with other people. Not a perfect film by any means but a rich and thoughtful one with a tone that I thought was perfectly in synch with the original saga.

    Jay – In my opinion this thing would have an ACR of 4.5, easy. Zero confusion as to who was doing what to whom and where during any of the action scenes and Reeves was able to convey the chaos and terror of outright warfare without resorting to any kind of wigglycam whatsoever. It’s a beautiful looking movie all round actually.

  5. People claiming that RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES: REBOOT OF THE REMAKE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES was an example of a smart sci-fi blockbuster always flummoxed me, because I’ve seen it twice now (Once as a MAJESTYK MAKES AMENDS entry that I never got around to writing) and it’s got to be one of the dumbest movies I’ve ever seen. Horribly written, perforated with plot holes, and unable to keep its character motivations straight for five minutes at a time. But the arc of Caesar and the monkey rampage scenes were just about enough to save it, kind of, so I’m glad to see that DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES: SEQUEL TO RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES: REBOOT OF THE REMAKE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES ditches the almost impossibly lame mad science plot and ups the hot monkey action. I will check it out.

    For the record:

    ORIGINAL RATING: C- for just being a total embarrassment to the art of plotting
    MAJESTYK MAKES AMENDS RATING: B- for the solid little character piece, RISE OF CAESAR, buried inside a risible James Franco movie. And for that part where the gorilla kills the helicopter.

  6. Mr. Majestyk – That’s because people today are easily impressed. I couldn’t really get into RISE either despite liking the older POTA movies.

    I still struggle to get into it. Not just because of the plot contrivances and poorly thought out Spielbergisms, but also because of the terrible performances from the likes of Franco, SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE girl and mustache twirling black guy. They just completely take me out of the movie and undo any good will brought on by Lithgow or Serkis’ performance. Especially considering just how much screentime all those actors get in the thing.

    At the least I hope this new one has much better human actor performances.

  7. Should’ve noted that I coudn’t get into RISE again. I actually remember enjoying it at the cinema but I was also very high and drunk when I saw it and barely paying any real attention to any of it save ape mayhem and bonding. When I try to sit down with it again and actually try to pay attention it just completely fails. Once again there are some real god awful performances up in that piece. SPRING BREAKERS aside I really don’t know how James Franco still gets work.

  8. I do wonder just how jarring an experience it was for your average movie goer to go from something like TR4NSFORMERS to this in a span of a week.

  9. Dikembe Mutombo

    July 14th, 2014 at 8:42 am

    and for whatever that Keri Russell show was that he co-created, if that’s true that there ever was such a show, I don’t have time to look it up right now.

    (who director Matt Reeves first worked with on a television show he co-created called Felicity, according to what I’ve read)

    Hahaha.

    Yeah this is a really good movie. I was skeptical that they could replicate the magic of RISE but Reeves is a hell of a director and they’ve got a smart script here. One thing I noticed and really liked is that the ape action is more grounded this time around. In RISE they’re constantly throwing themselves through plate glass windows and doing fancy spider-man swinging moves. Which I did enjoy, but I like this version too. In this they’re still clearly stronger and faster than humans, as real apes are, but they don’t come off like fantasy super apes for the most part.

  10. This bit of Franco-bashing pleases me. From what we’ve seen, I really don’t think he’s talented. He’s certainly undeserving of Vanessa’s humps. SPRING BREAKERS’s Alien was good, it worked within that movie, but I don’t know how much to respect the performance because that guy is interesting mainly because he is a cartoon and a shitty rapper/dealer who you watch and wonder how the fuck all those people are paying him to do shitty music and somehow make all that money. The frustration of his obnoxiousness and lack of appeal is built into the character, and he uses money & all his sheeut to attract people (and only vulnerable people who need out of jail).

    But he’s absent from DAWN OF THE ET CETERA, so I should shut up and probably check this out soon, see how that CIA brute is doing after his unfortunately timed career transition to an office job in DC. Pushing pencils and carrying briefcases, instead of mushing al qaeda scum into various torture positions, probably made him out of shape for the apepocalypse. I wonder if they hold it against him that he smiled while their brethren were locked in those cages or if they respect him since he tried to be nice to them.

    I couldn’t imagine sitting through RISE OF THE SO ON AND SO FORTH in full again, but yeah the computer generated smashing & jumping and the climax is good stuff. Hope this time there’s more than 20 minutes of A material punctuating a D movie.

  11. I like Franco in comedies. He can be pretty entertaining when we’re not expected to take him seriously.

  12. But it’s not like RISE OF CAESAR was the hidden movie you had to squint to see, it was the main focus of the film wasn’t it?

    Anyway this sequel is pretty great. The title itself tells you that it’s eventually going to be an ape-run planet, so you assume from the outset that the contingent of cooler heads will fail to prevail. It’s a brooding, pessimistic film that fills you with dread. All it takes is one guy/ape with ill intentions to sabotage all the good will Caesar and Malcolm have built up. When the one ape-hating guy dismisses Keri Russell’s explanation that it was in fact humans who were responsible for the Simian Flu, his simplistic reasoning really spoke to the impossibility of having any sort of dialogue with people on the opposite side of the political spectrum. The majority of people might be even-tempered, well reasoned, enlightened, and educated, but all it takes is an ignorant but vocal minority to fuck things up for everybody. Ain’t that the truth of it though?

    Reeves is 3/3 in my opinion, for most people it seems like these are “good in spite of being a found footage movie/remake/ape cg movie” but for me all three are straight up great films, fuck you. The unbroken tank of Koba (?) commandeering the tank was the standout moment as far as flashy filmatism.

    I think there’s a lot to think about and discuss in this film that isn’t as obvious as the whole ‘inevitability of war’ theme. I think it’s a loaded moment at the end when SPOILER Caesar has emerged as more of a straight-up dictator with ALL of the apes giving him the ‘I am your bitch’ gesture, and having just had to institute capital punishment on his old friend and ally. This is not the society Caesar wanted to create, and I love that the final moments of the film linger on a closeup of his eyes and try to penetrate his feelings of resolve on all that’s happened. Heavy stuff.

  13. It should have been, but Franco was clearly positioned as the protagonist, not Caesar. We more or less switch to Caesar’s POV around the halfway point, but until then we’re forced to deal with a whole bunch of bullshit about Franco’s never-changing-her-hair-in-eight-years girlfriend and the ridiculous Alzheimer’s subplot and the extraordinarily misconceived pharmaceutical exec. (First he’s an asshole because he stops the research, then he’s an asshole because he continues it. He does nothing that Franco [a despicable, irresponsible scientist] didn’t do first and worse, yet we’re supposed to cheer when he dies. It’s horrendous writing.) If we started with Caesar as the viewpoint character and followed his journey from lab rat to convict to revolutionary through his own eyes instead of Franco’s, it would have been a great movie.

    That’s all in the past, though. I’m looking forward to this new one.

  14. Captain Great: “Also this “Planet of the Apes” doesn’t seem to include gibbons or bonobos for some reason.”

    I’m pretty sure Koba is a bonobo.

  15. Is seeing the first one necessary to enjoy this?

  16. The Original Paul

    July 14th, 2014 at 2:58 pm

    I was going to ask exactly the same question as Stu has. This seems from its reviews as though it’s a good movie that’s also a part of a franchise that I’ve got zero interest in whatsoever, so I guess I’d put it a bit differently: if you’ve never seen a “Planet of the Apes” movie except the first half hour of the Tim Burton one, is this one worth going to see?

  17. Yes, but you should see Rise as well. They’re excellent films and worth your while.

  18. Keep your expectations in check, though, Paul. I know you. You’re a nitpicker. That’s not a criticism, just an observation. RISE has a new headscratcher every five minutes. It has the potential to really piss you off, but it develops the character of Caesar pretty well and has some fun action, so it’s worth seeing.

  19. I think it would absolutely work to see this without RISE, but like I said, RISE adds depth to the relationships. But you can go back and see it later if you want to.

    But more importantly, it is 2014, go watch the original PLANET OF THE APES for chrissakes. It’s a classic.

  20. I never saw the original APES series, maybe the first one when I was a wee sprog, I can’t remember. The first one is so iconic and oft quoted that I feel like I HAVE seen it, without having actually seen it. I viewed Burton’s Planet Of The Perpetual Fog Of Darkness That Obstructs What Is Taking Place On Screen Therefore I May Or May Not Have Seen It I Don’t Really Care Because It Sucked Anyway, and I’m 100% sure I saw RISE because I remember thinking it was ok, not great or anything.

    And yeah, Franco’s been overrated. Watch the Spider-Man’s again if you need more proof. I liked him in Pineapple Express and This Is The End, he wasn’t really required to act in those ones. The thing is, I think he does have a presence about him, but conveys that there’s not a lot happening upstairs with the grey-matter. He reminds me a bit of Kevin Costner in that way. They both carry a sense of their own talent and image, but are more aware of that than they should be. Focus on becoming a better actor instead of a movie star fellas. Franco does seem to be in a hell of a lot of films lately, and has directed his own projects, so he could be more of a burgeoning journeyman/artiste than we give him credit for.

    I liked DAWN a lot. I think Reeve’s is a good filmatist. LET ME IN is one of the best film’s, remake or not, of the last 10 years. That car crash scene with Richard Jenkins, hooded a la The Town That Dreaded Sundown is superb filmmaking. While I thought the effects in DAWN were good and the grey post-virus atmosphere was perfect, it was more of a surprise how involving the people and apes were as characters.

    Jason Clarke was a good everyman. He had the most sensible approach to getting through to the apes. I like how he had all these blended-family issues to sort through as well with Vern’s sweetheart Keri Russell.(C’mon Vern, we all know…). It was touching to see those who had lost loved ones become part of each others lives. Oldman was good as always but I thought his decision at the end to***SPOILER***detonate the bomb seemed forced and was just a bit too convenient to move the plot along.

    There was also a theme of forgiveness running through Koba’s character. Clearly he was abused beyond repair by the humans in the old days, yet he couldn’t let go of his hatred and bitterness, leading to the inevitable breakout of war. Great story, great movie.

  21. The effects here actually took me out of the movie plenty of times in plenty of ways. The uncanny valley hits super-hard: So many shots screamed “CG!” that I wondered whether a fully-animated telling of this story might have been better. The shortfall was especially jarring when the apes had to convey a telling moment with just an expression; moments like that were especially visually unreal and dramatically boldface, with labored nuance and little room for either the interpretation or spontaneity that really draws me in to a performance. On top of that, the live actors’ interactions with the apes often have that not-quite-connecting vibe, where the eyes or conversation or gestures don’t feel like they’re genuinely interacting. Normally I can roll with far worse effects or even far worse films, but for some reason – maybe the “take this seriously!” tone that I imagine Christopher Nolan detractors pick up from his stuff – the advanced effects weren’t good enough to wag the dog.

  22. this is a good movie

    it’s an allegory to the tragedy of all conflicts, it has a timeless element to it

    i would have thought this franchise would be a joke. it’s turning into something really well done and i look forward to the third

  23. I haven’t seen this one or the first one. I just couldn’t bring myself to watch the first one when it got such terrible reviews, especially from people here. I also have issues with the uncanny valley. I often can’t get past it. And to complete the trifecta, I don’t like prequels to stories you know are going to go to shit. Especially if it’s people (or apes) trying to do the right thing, only to be foiled by outside dickish forces.

    But…I do really like Jason Clarke. And ya’ll are saying it’s good. I may have to re-think this.

    Also, FAIL TO PREVAIL should be a title to a hip hop album. But I don’t listen to hip hop, so I could be wrong there.

  24. Hip-hop is way to goal-oriented for that. It’s a genre that never admits defeat. Fail To Prevail sounds more like the name of a 90s hardcore band.

  25. Thanks guys. For the record, I’ve seen the ORIGINAL, BENEATH, CONQUEST and the Burton remake. I’m not a philistine.

  26. The Original Paul

    July 15th, 2014 at 11:52 am

    Vern – thanks but I am trying to concentrate on excellent NEW stuff right now. Y’know, stuff that’s not part of existing IP, etc.

    (Yeah, good luck with that, right?)

    Seriously though – I agree with Darren about the original movie. I’ve heard all the quotes, I know the twist, I’ve seen it discussed to death, etc. It’s been thoroughly spoiled for me. It’s the double-whammy of it not being a story that particularly interests me, and also one that I’ve pretty much heard everything that there is to hear about.

  27. The Original Paul

    July 15th, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    And for the record guys, we only get to call “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” by the word “Dawn” in this thread. Nowhere else, y’hear?

    Let us all agree that the original “Dawn of the Dead” should be the only “Dawn” around here.

  28. How about “Dawn Apes”?

  29. Paul: Maybe this is a stupid question in itself, but if you had no intention of checking it out, why the hell did you ask if you should check it out?

    Call me a philistine but I never really cared for the original either. I didn’t see it as a kid, and by the time I caught up with it, it was so thoroughly spoiled that nothing had much impact. Beyond that, it establishes its premise early on and then reiterates it again and again and again and again without much really changing. You know where it’s all going in the first half hour and then it just keeps going there. Pretty boring, in my opinion.

    I have not seen the sequels, but I did (unfortunately) see the remake, so I have yet to more than partially enjoy any APES films. I’m hoping this’ll be the one to change that.

  30. The Original Paul

    July 15th, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    Majestyk – I should clarify I had no intention of checking out the ORIGINAL “Planet of the Apes”.

    I’m not particularly fussed about the new one either, but everyone seems to think it’s good and it’s the only thing in the cinema. I’ll definitely watch it if it’s gonna be one of those one-off things that I can enjoy on its own merits.

  31. I generally enjoy some of the sequels like CONQUEST and ESCAPE more than the original PLANET OF THE APES. I even think BATTLE is ok despite it’s reputation and this new one looks like a modern remake of it. With that said the original is still a classic and I personally enjoyed it despite knowing the twist. But hell what do I know I even thought the Burton/Marky Mark one was ok until the shitty 3rd act.

  32. In the long and storied history of overly on-the-nose pop music cues in film history, perhaps none is more egregious that the use of Peter Gabriel’s “Shock the Monkey” over the opening credits of Project X, a film about testing on Chimpanzees.

  33. Dikembe Mutombo

    July 16th, 2014 at 10:16 am

    I like Franco when he’s playing Daniel Desario types, which includes his guy from HOMEFRONT. He’s an example of the virtues of typecasting – the more his career enables him to play against type, the worse he looks. DiCaprio’s in that category for me too.

    I first watched the entirety of PLANET OF THE APES just a few years ago, though I’d seen bits and pieces over the years. It blew me away. I loved going back to a time when “huge hit sci-fi film” meant a movie where everyone mostly just stands around having conversations. There’s tension, laughs, thrills, creepy stuff, great makeup, big ideas… it’s a really good time.

  34. About a third of the way through a revisiting of “Rise” to discover if Mr. Majestyk is correct and my initial love for the film was ill-founded. He’s not, and it’s not — unless stuff begins to rapidly fall apart from this point forward, but my urge to rebut certain claims was distracting enough to lure me away from the film for a moment.

    “the extraordinarily misconceived pharmaceutical exec”
    They don’t portray him as an asshole. He supports Franco until an unmitigated, Splice-level (though not Robocop-level) disaster forces him not to. Similarly, when Caesar attacks the neighbor, the scene is not about “dbag neighbor gets just desserts” but “Caesar is a powerful animal that the protagonists have woefully underestimated much to the detriment of all involved.” These scenes are about rational people acting upon the choices presented to them.

    “the ridiculous Alzheimer’s subplot”
    I don’t think that this is a great film in spite of the human characters, but /because/ of the manner in which this stuff was handled. There’s an economy of information here that virtually every mainstream blockbuster in the last decade would do well to learn from. When they first take Caesar to the redwood grove, it’s Lithgow who urges him to climb and explore; both beneficiaries/burden-bearers of the gene therapy, they have an allegiance to one another that underscores Caesar’s misguided defense of the old man a few scenes later. When Franco takes Caesar to the lab parking lot to explain his origins, we surmise that he’s also finally confessing the truth of the matter to his girlfriend simultaneously. In 15 minutes of screentime, there is about half an hour of tedious expositional conversation that the film entirely omits, possessing such confidence in the delivery of salient emotional beats.

    And yes, we indeed start with the capture of Caesar’s mother, and hew closely to her and her son’s experience throughout the film. Every time we jump forward in time, it’s Caesar we first see bounding about the house or brooding upon the treebranch. We don’t “switch” to his perspective halfway through, and the visual motif of lingering on closeups of his and his mothers’ eyes lends both films a coherence in their focus and intent.

    Anyway, I just wanted to put my dissenting opinion on record. There’s a breathless sense of momentum and discovery I find in this film that I spend 99% of my moviewatching career yearning for and not finding, and it crushes my soul somewhat to realize that not everybody gets to be a part of it.

  35. That’s cool, renfield. I don’t think any of that stuff you’re talking about works in the slightest (and I think you’re kidding yourself if you don’t see how the movie is shamelessly stacking the deck against its human villains) but I’m glad it still works for you. Absolutely none of the drama involving the human characters is anything but laughable to me so I’m kind of stuck thinking about how the story makes no sense instead of just going with the flow. Nobody cares about nitpicks in a movie that works on them as a whole.

  36. I would also like to point out that yours is hardly the dissenting opinion. Go check out the original RISE review and you’ll see that me and Franchise Fred were basically the only people who didn’t like it. So take heart. Most of the world is on your side.

  37. Saw the first movie over the weekend (good, but full of stupid annoying things), and DAWN today. I think it’s great, with only 2 real complaints
    1. Could have used a more organic reason for the Apes and Humans to fight instead of plot contrivance and there being a specific asshole on both sides who either through stubborn stupidity (human guy) or malice (Koba) made things worse.
    2. Keri Russel’s pretty much the token female female character. Caesar’s mate would also be that if she HAD A NAME and wasn’t clearly just there to be a plot device to let the humans gain Caesar’s trust.

  38. Let me start by saying that the original Planet of the Apes is my all time favorite movie. I very much like the series and with some explainable glitches it is all very plausible and related.
    Rise and Dawn are so far out of the loop as to the motives and story line that I can not stand them. I do not care about who directed or who acted in each of these. It is unimportant. What is important is, does the story fit the premise and does one movie lead to another. I pivot everything around the sacred scrolls. If you don’t remember what those are you are not qualified to comment on this movie as part of the series. Both Rise and Dawn seem to be written by people who never watched the original, or even read the book by Boulle. The whole ape shall never kill ape thing develops because apes have spent generations witnessing mans behavior to man. The apes pledge to not be like the humans and the first rule is not to kill each other.
    These two movies push the action and development of the apes far to quickly. There is never time for them to come to hate the humans so much that even 2000 years later, during the time of Cornelius and Zira, they are still trying to hunt them to extinction. The Sacred Scrolls would not have been written with such venom directed at humans describing how man kills for sport or to posses his neighbors land if the apes had not watched it happen for generations.
    As stand alone movies I liked Rise but Dawn was awful. I nearly fell asleep in the first half. There were unexplored branches that either should have been pruned or developed. This movie seems to be written by a child with no understanding of cause and effect. The action scenes were so Hollywood bad, and someone’s idea of how a battle is fought or would be fought is so uninformed and unimaginative as to be ridiculous. The movie was so generic and we have seen all of this before in other movies. Nothing original here. There was zero effort made to tie these movies into the series as a prequel trilogy.
    The original POTA did not rely on violence and had a minimum of it necessary for the telling of the story. It was much more of a political and social statement. The upside-down world Taylor found himself in with all its injustice and blatant disregard for evidence was obvious to even children watching it. The constant “if only” or the unexplained condition of the world is what made it so interesting. The world was one way when Taylor left it and now it was completely different with no explanation. You had to fill in the blanks. A lot of movies have the “reveal scene” where everything is explained to you as if it was a Columbo mystery of the week movie. Only the bare bones of anything is explained in Apes. Cloverfield was done in a similar fashion. The forum discussions on Cloverfield complained about how the monster was never explained and there seemed to be no happy ending or even a resolution. Cloverfield was a love story from a guys point of view, not a monster invasion story. There should never be a sequel to it or even a prequel. It is perfect the way it is.
    The Apes series did little to fill those blanks for you, and I and my brother spent many hours trying to piece together how it may have happened. That is the mark of a good movie. If you are still thinking about it 2 weeks later and 2 years later and want to watch it again and again. How many movies have you seen that entertained you at the time and now can hardly recall having seen? Probably most. Dawn is not that type of a movie.
    The best similar movie series I can think of is the Star Wars series. Everyone loved episodes 4,5, and 6. They hated 1,2, and 3. Think of a book you read and try cutting it up into 6 parts. Part 1 and 2 are going to be slow and boring because they usually have to set the characters and location. Of course episodes 1 and 2 of Star Wars would be the way they are. They needed to be. They were perfect as they were not counting the reimagining of the Force. Everybody hated those movies, but as part of the story they had to be that way.
    The problem with Rise and Dawn was that they each tried to be The whole story all at once all the time instead of being a part of a larger whole.

  39. I finally got around to seeing Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and I really liked it. A movie where a chimpanzee rides a horse while firing duel machine guns is a movie made specifically to my tastes. I’m also a fan of the first film, although I recognize how goofy it can be, especially in the first half. Still, Dawn improves on the first movie in most ways. I noticed that early in the film there is a musical cue that sounds like atonal choral music, and it’s somewhat reminiscent of the music from the first part of 2001. Considering that Lucy also heavily alludes to 2001, it seems like this summer we have two blockbusters that are indebted to Kubrick’s hard sci-fi film. Of course, these movies take some of his imagery and use it for pulpier storytelling, which is cool too.

    My one major gripe with the film is the character of Koba. Others have pointed this out, but he starts off as an interesting character who has a justified hatred and distrust of humans, but by the end he’s a sociopathic bad guy. I really wish that the conflict between the two groups were more organic. (By contrast, Gary Oldman’s character never enters into the arena of mustache twirling villain, like Koba). The film would be stronger if its depiction of two groups at war were more nuanced.

  40. I´m not sure I´d trust someone named Boorfe or any of his tips.

  41. My son is also named Boorfe.

  42. That sounds like Boorfeshit. I don´t believe that.

Leave a Reply





XHTML: You can use: <a href="" title=""> <img src=""> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <b> <i> <strike> <em> <strong>