Sunday, August 31, 2014

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)

I'm a Planet of the Apes fan (movies, novel, TV series, everything), so I have some experience and opinion here, and this new movie Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is the greatest since the 1968 film with Charlton Heston and in some ways even better than it.

The sci-fi element is not as dominant, but what remains is social drama and post-modern warfare. These themes are aided by surprisingly strong ape characters with personalities, motives, and individually-crafted body structures and facial features that look great. Andy Serkis reprises his role as Ceasar, and his standard high level of detail and dedication to a non-human character (Gollum, King Kong, etc.) is consistent across the entire ape cast. The story is divine, reminiscent of something Shakespearean, with the balance of power and sophistication of the ape communal system and impending period of conflict with the humans.

It's real beautiful and what Thor (2011) could have been if it cut out more of the Earth assimilation story and dropped the Two Broke Girls variety hour and incorporated more of the struggle for the throne story. But with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, it's like watching Hamlet or Richard III; it's a tragedy. You know peace can't work out between the humans and the apes but you want to see it work but then you also want to see them fight, and this film balances and rewards these two desires, the simultaneous yearning for peace and for humans versus monkeys action, incredibly well.

All the supporting elements add value in their own way, and the musical score and visuals of the San Franciscan ruins are supreme. Despite starring the wonderful Gary Oldman, what's great about this new Planet of the Apes film is that it's not plagued by singular stardom in being the Mark Wahlberg one or the James Franco one; it's just a really fucking great movie.