DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (2014)

dawnoftheplanetsJaneeMeadartfull4

The law of diminishing artistic returns.

A sequel to a reboot of a very successful franchise from the 60’s/70’s was always going to be an uphill struggle.

When Rupert Wyatt had finished Rise of the Planet of the Apes he began work on the sequel but, when the May 2014 release date had been announced by the studio, he felt there wasn’t enough time to make the sequel properly so was quickly replaced by Cloverfield director, Matt Reeves.

Here, Reeves does a decent enough job building on the story and, as it’s set 10 years after the end of Rise, there is a whole new generation of apes to contend with.
The Simian flu virus has all but destroyed humanity and with the apes and a handful of humans immune to the virus we are thrust into a dystopic world which makes for a great visual backdrop.

Caesar (the brilliant Andy Serkis) is still in charge of the ape colony and now has a son, Alexander (Kodi Smit-McPhee). When a group of humans enters their domain seeking access to the dam in order to generate power for the humans still living in San Francisco, order is upset. Koba, now played by, the always interesting English actor, Toby Kebbell, has his mind set on destroying the humans, having been tortured and experimented on by them in the first film. Here lies the drama, the liberal understanding of the goodness that exists in humans from Caesar and the relentless hate that Koba has for them.

Can ape and human live together in harmony? Not if Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) has anything to do with it. He brings gravitas to a poorly written stereotypical role. Jason Clarke plays our main human protagonist, Malcolm, who sympathises and has empathy for the apes. Kirk Acevedo (Oz) plays Carver, the human trouble-maker.

It’s an age old story of fear and the difference that lives within us that many times creates wars and dis-harmony.

Dawn is a good effort, falling short of being brilliant by some muddy composition.

3/5

BUY THE FILM ON BLU RAY DVD HERE

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RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (2011)

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A welcome addition to the apes’ canon started in 1963 by Pierre Boulle with his novel, La Planete
des Singes. I doubt he had any idea of the longevity of his idea, 50 years later they’d be still making films.

The second reboot of the Apes franchise after the embarrassment of the Burton/Wahlberg effort is such a breath of fresh air, filled with a great many right notes that make for a great story. The few gripes I had are outweighed by the sum of its parts.

James Franco is Will Rodman, our human protagonist and does a great job until Basil Exposition rears its ugly head. Only a tiny amount but the odd one line here, one line there to let us, the dumb-fuck audience know what is happening, which is weird considering how much most of the film steers clear of the expo. If a line is written badly you do what you can to make it real. It ain’t easy. A lot of time goes by without any speaking, lots of great scenes of the main ape, Caesar (Andy Serkis) growing up and trying to find his place in this strange world.

Rodman is a scientist who is trying to find a cure for Alzhiemers, which his father is suffering from. John Lithgow is, as always, a joy, bringing such sensitivity to the role of Charles Rodman, Will’s father.

Frieda Pinto gives good face and, for the most part, it’s fine until ‘O-Oh Who’s this barging through the door desperate to get his tuppence in’? Ah yes, Basil of the many expositions, and then wooden is as wooden does.

David Oyewelo tries his best at the greedy whor-porate boss but is just in it too much and whose end doesn’t come soon enough.

It’s weird looking back and seeing such strong well told pieces of narrative that are offset, only a tiny amount, but offset nevertheless, by these trite bits of sloppy characterization and exposition. Either be daring or don’t. Don’t piss about on the fence.

These are tiny criticisms of the overall picture, it is well-made, well-told and well-executed and is a very enjoyable film.

Andy Serkis is fantastic, once again proving that the actor brings his immense talent to creating a character filled with nuance, bringing to mind Lon Chaney Jr and his ‘Man of a Thousand Faces’ title. Surely it’s only a matter of time before the award ceremonies to catch up and recognize.

Rupert Wyatt directs with confidence and skill, having shown his talents previously with the great prison drama, The Escapist.

This is a lot of fun, with some wonderful set pieces and sturdy performances. It says something when the most interesting parts are C.G.I. and here Wyatt has managed to ground them in an emotional reality, more often than not missing in such films.

3.8/5

BUY THE BLU RAY DVD HERE

DOWNLOAD THE FILM ON iTUNES HERE