Thursday, February 19, 2015

Movie with Abe: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Directed by Matt Reeves
Released July 11, 2014

I love franchises as much as the next guy…well, maybe not quite as much. But I could watch every “Star Wars” or “Back to the Future” film over and over again and I sincerely hope that the “Fast and the Furious” series one day gets to be as old as I am now. I’m not always on board, however, and sometimes it just seems like there’s no reason to make another movie. I never saw any of the original “Planet of the Apes” films, and only joined the franchise with its most recent reboot kickoff, “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” While that film was better than expected, I fail to see a compelling reason to have made the series’ latest installment.

I sat down to the watch this film strictly because it is one of the Oscar nominees for Best Visual Effects, and I’m coming very close to having seen every single film nominated in every category. This didn’t interest me at all when it was in theatres even though I had positive memories of the 2011 film that restarted the franchise starring James Franco and Andy Serkis as Caesar, disguised as usual with countless effects and able to marvelously embody a nonhuman creature. Why the dawn comes after the rise, I’m not so sure, but let’s start where this film does.

This vision of a dystopian future finds two communities living in San Francisco following the outbreak of an epidemic mutation that caused the decimation of a great portion of the population, something that is recounted through archived news footage cleverly showcasing many recognizable personalities like President Barack Obama in the opening moments of the film. Humans take shelter within what is left of the city, searching desperately for a power source that will allow them to continue to survive. The apes live in the woods, communicating mostly via sign language but also beginning to speak with actual words. It’s not too long before these two groups converge and all hell threatens to break loose.

What ensues is a mess of a movie, one that might be considered a horror film if it was actually supposed to be scary. Instead, tension builds unevenly as Jason Clarke’s Malcolm takes on the role filled by Franco in the first film as the only human interested in coexisting with the apes. Can one forward-thinking human and one very forward-thinking ape save the planet from becoming ruled by apes? It’s doubtful, and this movie doesn’t do much to help you find out. The effects are a feat, yes, but there isn’t much else worthwhile about this film, which isn’t nearly as entertaining as it should be.


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