Friday, July 11, 2014

Review: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Release date: July 11, 2014
Running time: 130 minutes
Starring: Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, 
Who to see it with: Jane Goodall, or someone who wanted a little more fighting than the last film.


The latest reboot of Planet of the Apes series, starting with 2011's surprisingly good Rise of the Planet of the Apes, introduced a new generation to the Apes franchise. The 2011 film was noticeably better than the critically mixed, but financially successful, 2001 film starring Mark Wahlberg. Rise of the Planet of the Apes introduced audiences to Caesar, an ape treated with an anti-Alzheimer's drug that causes him to develop super intelligence. In Rise, a group of similarly treated apes escape into the forests of San Francisco.  It is later discovered that the Alzheimer's drug has a deadly effect on humans exposed to it, and the movie concludes with a graphic showing the spread of "Ape flu" across the globe. 

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes picks up several years after the flu has devasated the world's population. Caesar and his colony are firmly entrenched in Muir Woods. However, the encroachment of a group of humans, looking for a source of energy to power their camp, threatens to escalate into a conflict that neither party will survive. The first thing you notice about the new film are the impressive visuals. At first, it's a little off putting and it looks almost like an animated film given the large number of primate protagonists. The apes really approach, and sometimes fall into, the uncanny valley, but luckily that is less noticeable once some humans populate the screen. The world of the film also looks impressive and decidedly apocalyptic. 

The plot is fairly predictable and drags on for an overly long time. It's not that a lot doesn't happen--and this is a film that must set up a lot for the inevitable conclusion film--but much of it feels like it could be sped up or trimmed to make the movie a more concise event. Part of this might also be that the movie feels like a long setup for the third film in the series. It addresses some poignant subjects and has some interesting ideas, but they take too long to explore. The characters are fun to meet, but no one is as captivating as James Franco was from the first film. Additionally, many of the archetypes are the most extreme versions, some of the characters are more nuanced but this is generally a very black and white film. And finally, the dialog feels very cliched, but I am not sure how much of that is a throwback to the old films and how much is bad writing. 


No comments:

Post a Comment