Bru’s Reviews – DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES IS NOT A DAY IN THE PARK July 14, 2014 – Posted in: Blog, Bru's Reviews, Featured Columns
All original written content is (c) 2014 Mike Pascale. Visual content is (c) its respective owners. Bru-Hed is a trademark of All Ages Media and Mike Pascale.
THIS WEEK: Finally, sequel worthy of being one. The second installment of the reboot of the PLANET OF THE APES franchise takes place a decade after the first flick. Caesar (Andy Sirkis) is now head of the smart apes and has to deal with the inhabitants of what’s left of San Francisco after the Simian Flu has wiped out most of the country.
The humans need access to a dam on the Apes’ ranch to bring electricity to their city (apparently so they can watch the 49ers continue to lose to the Seahawks).
Written by Mark Bomback and Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver; Directed by Matt Reeves
- The film begins the way the last one ended, with a nice extended close up and move in on Caesar’s face. Even if you know nothing about CGI, you will be amazed by how friggin’ real he looks. At times you’ll think Sirkis has the world’s greatest makeup job because there’s just no way it’s computer-generated. [MIKE: Well, considering there are dozens of very real human artists working those computers, you’ll believe it. Computers don’t generate imagery by themselves!]
- The rest of the apes for the most part look every bit as impressive and real. Just look at the extreme closeups of their face and limbs, the hair and skin, the texture, light and shadow and all that stuff. Unbelievable detail. Almost makes Pixar films look like SOUTH PARK.
- A quick, effective introduction as to how the human and ape races got to this point and how the Simian Flu came to be and screwed everything up. (But if you can rewatch the first film, RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES before seeing this, do so.)
- Plot makes sense. There are twists, betrayals, allegories, metaphors and all the other highbrow literary crap that critics like. But for me, the events more or less were logical and characters acted in character. Granted, there are one or two moments where you’ll say, “Why didn’t he just say…” or “Why didn’t he tell everyone that…” but there has to be some concessions for the writers.
- Andy Sirkis should really, honestly be nominated for if not win an Oscar for best actor. Don’t let the bluenose, stuck-up sci-fi haters give you any crap about “motion capture.” Sirkis is an Actor (capital “A”) and Acts with the best of ’em, given the subtleties of his face and limited dialog. (Remember Karloff in FRANKENSTEIN? This is even better.) And you tell me which is harder: acting with your fellow actors all in costume talking, or wearing an embarrassing black unitard with yer face covered with dots and wires while you pretend you’re a different species that can barely talk? This is brilliant stuff.
- Plenty of action and shoot-em-ups with a few explosions thrown in to keep things from getting too bogged down during the slow parts.
- A few humorous bits that will make you laugh. Not 22 JUMP STREET funny, but funny enough to lighten some of the dire moments, especially considering the state of humanity.
- Little touches that really add to the reality: In one scene, a baby chimp yawns. Had nothing to do with the scene; he was off in the corner in his mama’s arms. And it obviously took the animators a lot longer to study it and have to add it. But that’s exactly what infants would do, and it was really well done.
- You really root for some of the apes and hate others, just as much if not more than the people characters.
- The filmmakers and actors obviously did a crapload of research into simian culture. The way they talk, walk, swing, emote, vocalize and other stuff seem genuinely believable. I ain’t no Jane Goodall but I’m sure real ape researchers would give this an opposable thumbs up.
- Some clueless critics have said that the human characters aren’t as “well-developed” as the apes. Um, maybe they should read the damn title of the film again! Plus the theme and the running time. Were they were expecting a three-and-a-half hour movie about people? Idiots.
- Granted, there are some stereotypical movie characters (the untrusting jerk who Screws It All Up, the Sensitve Caring Guy, the Non-believing Extremist, the Macho Gun-toters, etc.) but show me any blockbuster that doesn’t. And they all make sense in context.
- Lots of ape nudity, but chimp chicks are not hot.
- Ceasar and the apes communicate mostly by sign language. Yet not one of the humans who spend day and night with them notice! (Or know how to use it. Was James Franco from the first film the only one? Are their no deaf people in the future?) Plus, when Caesar is surrounded by his apes and signing to them, how the hell do the ones behind him know what he’s saying? They need an Ape Jumbotron. (Chimpotron?)
- No one mentions the fact that apes are not monkeys. (See? I do watch the National Geo channel and learn somethin’ every year or so.)
- Because the CG standard is set so high, the few “faker-looking” scenes are more noticeable. Some of the scenes of the baby chimp don’t work as well as others.
- Caesar’s first son is almost never referred to by name. I think they just call him “Blue Eyes” but no one else has a name like that so it doesn’t make much sense, other than as a nod to Caesar’s mother in the RISE movie, who was named “Bright Eyes.” But he pretty much calls him “son” for most of the movie.
- There are a-hole apes as well as humans. Doesn’t take ’em too long to break their first commandment. (Thanks to humans?)
- Fake “button” after the credits. There are ape sound effects as the credits draw to a close, but that’s it! BAD move. Either give us something or nothing.
- The hierarchy and roles of the species from the original series (chimps–scientists, orangutans-legislators/philosophers, gorillas-soldiers) haven’t been established yet. But there are one or two glimpses.
- Hundreds if not thousands of apes, and not a single banana to be seen. WTF? (Granted, they don’t grow in San Francisco, but not even a banana-flavored smoothie?)
I didn’t pay extra fer 3D so I can’t comment on it. But this is AWESOME. Should be nominated for Best Picture if the stuck-up Academy morons could get over themselves. You should see it on the big screen to become part of the world, to marvel at the insane detail of the apes. Then watch it again on video when the larger story is available. (Plus freeze frame/slow-mo some of the more dramatic shots/scenes). And of course, drool over all the extras and making-ofs. Enjoy!
P.S.: Pascale can draw you a really cool ape–or you AS an ape! Any character or person you want. LAST CHANCE to get a commission until after Comic-Con. Get your request in now and get your art before the end of the month! Just ask Craig here!
DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed herein are not necessarily those of Wednesday’s Heroes, Mike Pascale, Jane Goodall, Lancelot Link, Cornelius, Zira, Dr. Zaius, General Ursus, Tarzan, Chiquita Banana or San Franciso apes and humans. Bru-Hed thinks he’d make a great ape (but not a Grape Ape) because he likes to beat his chest, walk around naked and play with his banana.
[Thanks for the thumb line, Zombo!]