Dawn of Planet of Apes ✮✮

Apes with Guns

by Glenn Lovell

Man and simian try to make nice in “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” the 10-years-later sequel to “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” That this experiment in peaceful post-apocalyptic coexistence doesn’t take won’t come as a surprise. As with the other “Planet of the Apes” movies, dating to the more allegorical 1968 original with Charlton Heston, this one reminds us why there are bars separating man from gorilla at the local zoo: with apologies to Jane Goodall, man and ape don’t much care for one another, probably because the latter reminds the former of what he once was and the former reminds the latter of how far homo erectus has stumbled down the evolutionary ladder.

Like “Rise,” released three years ago, this new installment, directed by Matt Reeves (“Cloverfield”), boasts wall-to-wall digital effects and performance-capture inserts that are light-years removed from anything found in the Dawn of Man gorilla-suit tableaux of “2001.” Both movies are really prequels that attempt to explain how it was that Earth fell victim to reverse evolution, with simians now calling the shots and herding humans like cattle. Is it a case of natural selection, the planet righting itself, or, following those horrific lab experiments, is it poetic justice?

When last we spied the chimp-ape-orangutan army, it had decamped to the redwoods north of San Francisco. And this is where we fiapesnd the upstart simians a decade later. Only now they’re living in a makeshift fortress and communicating through sign language and broken English. Their credo: “Ape not kill ape.”

Meanwhile, thanks to a simian flu pandemic, humans are back in the Dark Ages — or at least the 1950s — living in shopping malls without electricity, staring longingly at their useless laptops. Members of a San Francisco colony, looking to reboot a hydroelectric dam, wander into ape territory and cause no end of teeth-gnashing and frenzied dancing.

In the best line in what is overall a fairly monotonous sci-fi adventure, the loose-cannon member of the team reports back, “They’re talking apes! With big-ass spears!”

Caesar (Andy Serkis), the smartest ‒ and chattiest ‒ of the tribe, is still in charge. But his leadership is being contested by Koba (Toby Kebell), who bears the scars of human experiments. An astute politician, Koba accuses Caesar of being soft on humans. Caesar, a peacenik-pragmatist, counters: “Apes do not want war, but will fight if we must.”

After much back-and-forth over whether humans carrying guns are to be trusted, the simians rise up and lay siege to the San Francisco colony, run by Gary Oldman, who has little to do but probably signed on for the opportunity to shout, “Sound the alarm! Sound the alarm!”

Because “Rise” wasn’t nearly as good or provocative as the original “Planet of the Apes,” our expectations for “Dawn” weren’t very high. The effects ‒ a mix of CG, 3D animation, and state-of-the-art performance capture ‒ are said to have set 20th Century-Fox back upwards of $170 million. They run from stunning to strategically obscured. Serkis and Kebell peering out from beneath digitized fur and prosthetics impart far more emotion than their human counterparts. Unfortunately, there’s not much of a story to justify the two-hour-plus running length, and the battle royal between Caesar and Koba atop an abandoned skyscraper proves more cartoonish than cathartic. The best sequence has Koba conning a couple of dimwit guards by playing the stereotypical Hollywood chimp (compliant, clownish, anxious to please) ‒ right up until the moment he seizes their weapons and (anti-gun lobby take note) experience a new kind of bloodlust.

DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES ✮✮ With Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Toby Kebell, Gary Oldman. Directed by Matt Reeves; scripted by Mark Bombeck, Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver. 130 min. Rated PG-13 (for violence, profanity)








19 Responses to “Dawn of Planet of Apes ✮✮”

  1. Jordan Says:

    Clearly nobody wants to see a movie with you because you hate life and take the wind out of everyones sails.


  2. Jack Says:

    “Clearly”, Jordan is just another hateful fanboy that attacks a film critic for writing what he thinks.


    • Paul Grady Says:

      Thank you!,.It was a badd movie on every level,.Unless you wanna give it some sort of merit for special effects,.Which other than the Apes were pretty awful(for 12014),.But thew rest of the movie was terrible,.I mean the script was as bad as it could be,.I guess a 9 yr old with a 6 yr olds’ reading level might think it was original or interesting


  3. justin Says:

    you can NOT be serious with this review, i’d be interested to see what you consider a good movie


  4. Nicholas Says:

    Glenn Lovell, putting the “dope” in(to) cinemas.


  5. Kattalover Says:

    This movie was a mishmash of storylines we’ve seen in the past (Last of the Dogmen, Dances with Wolves, Apocalypto, and the first new Star Trek movie). Two thumbs down.


  6. Tel... Says:

    The movie doesn’t have the urgency of the original penned by Rod Serling. It was a time of civil upheaval and paranoia of a nuclear war with the Soviet Union. Serling played on both dynamics beautifully. The class structure of the apes, the downfall of man from nuclear war where no one wins, the forcing of the audience to see man subjegated and brutalized as allegory to his hubris and the civil rights movement of the time. It wasn’t preachy it was scary and smart.

    This film on the other hand goes small. Anti-gun sentiment is it loftiest attempt and it gets a collective “meh” from the audience for it. And ironically…the apes have to pick up guns to be able to face man fairly in a fight. Oldman’s character Dreyfus doesn’t turn out to be the humans’ “Koba” but rather a man who’s lost everything and just wants to save what little there is left. It turns out his cautiousness about the apes was warranted. But…hollywood being what it is…Koba is able to sieze some weapons because two “redneck-esque” yahoos get drunk while shooting their guns. Dumb..just dumb.

    With a world right now boiling over from ebola in West Africa. HIV surging again throughout the world. Islamist insurgencies in the middle east. Russian power-politics in the Ukraine. Political turmoil in the U.S. Iraq and Afghanistan rattled by war, Europe in economic flux and an under-current of social unrest….and the writers of this movie went with gun-control for a Planet fo the Apes movie?

    I enjoyed this movie for a fantasy, sci-fi thriller. It’s good at that level..and heck..I just love the Planet of the Apes movies anyway..yes even Tim Burton’s drek (solely because Rick Baker did such a glorious job on the makeup). But it’s message is trite and far too myopic. I got the feeling the writers didn’t want to alienate huge swaths of the audience by being too overt in their liberal preachiness. But the movie didn’t need liberal preachiness at all. It needed a realistic grasp of the world we live in today.
    What’s the bet they go with Global Warming for the next one?


    • Glenn Lovell Says:

      I hated Serling’s tacked-on ending (not in Pierre Boulle source novel) — and very predictable to anyone who’d seen half a dozen episodes of Twilight Zone. Serling’s “surprise ending” definitely recycled “Zone.”


      • Tel... Says:

        Glenn….it was obvious to the audience that Taylor and his crew had landed back on Earth and it was just a matter of time before Taylor realised it. The ending was no surprise to anyone observant enough to see where the film was going. But the image of Taylor pounding the sand infront of a decaying Statue of Liberty is quite powerful. The sub-text is even more powerful..Taylor…a misanthropic cynic about humanity is forced to see not only his own misgivings about mankind brought to their conclusion before him but ironically..he now needs the human race more than he ever did. Far more powerful stuff than this film’s Caesar resigning himself to the idea of war with humans and some foppish anti-gun hollywood cliches’. I get your point..yes the ending in the orginal was very Twilight Zone..but which ending will live on…Serling’s or the writers’ of this Apes film?
        By the way…Burton attempted a riff on Boulle’s Monkey Planet ending on his flaccid effort and it didn’t work.


  7. Optimus Solo (@OptimusSolo) Says:

    Ahh, the typical ‘I want to gain attention and credibility’ by writing a negative review on a movie that I know 90+% of the population is going to love. Either you purely did not understand the movie, or you simply like being the guy who goes against the grain. Either way, you giving Battle: Los Angeles a higher rating than this film forever makes you inconsequential when it comes to the world of movie critics. I appreciate the attempt to be different, but you have failed ten times more in this review than you claim the filmmakers failed in this latest installment of the Apes franchise.


  8. Rick Says:

    Hey, I got a great idea! Why don’t you make film and let all of us critique it?? I truly despise people who hang out in their basement all day passing unnecessarily harsh judgement on those of us who have the drive and the passion to actually get out and create. If you really think this movie deserves two stars and you think you could do a better job, then you are a sad, diluted little man who has no business thinking his opinion matters.

    I’m going to also concur with Optimus Solo on the issue regarding your review of Battle: Los Angeles juxtaposed with this one.


  9. Paul Grady Says:

    Great review Glen!,.I guess giving it ZERO STARS would just afford you more grief than you are already taking,.Well,.Good for me I don’t have to worry about stupid people who find even stupider scripts and acting somehow compelling! ZERO STARS!


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