Big Screen :: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

July 14th 2014


Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a studio-produced, giant budget, special-effects extravaganza that opens with a 25 minute long dialogue free sequence containing nothing but monkeys communicating in subtitled sign language…

What I am trying to say is, this is not your average action movie.

Set ten years after fucking James Franco accidentally all but wiped out humanity in a doomed attempt to cure his dad’s Alzheimer’s, Dawn is focused mostly on the apes who are going about building a primitive society led by Ceaser, the genetically modified super ape played by Andy Serkis. Their civilization runs into trouble when the dregs of San Francisco attempt to access a hydro electric dam near their camp.

These Ape movies have always functioned as allegories. This one is all about tribal warfare, and you don’t have to look far to see the real world parallels…

Some of these Apes were mistreated by humans, the humans are threatened and confused by the apes but both have literally nothing to gain and so much to lose from conflict. The Apes don’t give a shit about the dam, and the humans have nothing they want. The humans have way bigger problems than some monkeys in the woods.

The only reason they cannot coexist and thrive is ignorance and prejudice, and so of course, violence feels horrifyingly inevitable.

Like in real life there are no goodies and baddies; just people on both sides who are smart, peaceful and forgiving and people who are dumb, damaged and violent. And it’s always the dumb ones who who seek out the guns.

The film is also very clear that it is guns that are the difference between potential and actual violence, so it will be interesting to see if anyone notices that in the States.

I said at the top that this is not your average blockbuster, so even if you try to avoid your more explosiony movies I urge you to give this a look. It’s beautifully made, wonderfully performed, moody and clever. The special effects are just mystifyingly good, with Serkis and Toby Kebbel giving amazing performances as Cease and his offsider Koba, who is one angry Monkey.

If there is a fault it’s that the movie is balanced too heavily towards the monkeys, not giving the human cast, led by Jason Clark, Keri Russell and Gary Oldman, time to do much. But thats like saying there is to much of a good thing, because these apes are awesome.

That said, they are not very enlightened. A few more woman in leadership roles might have prevented this whole human/ape catastrophe. The only girl ape I remember is Ceasar’s wife who exists only to give birth and get sick.

Come on apes. You’re better than this!

Anyway, I walked into this humming the Planet of the Apes, Troy Mclure musical number hoping for at best a silly distraction. Instead Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is one of the best movies of the year so far. Don’t miss it.

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