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Archive for the ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ Category

Apes revisited – the less they talk the better

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It’s been three years since Rise of the Planet of the Apes (and don’t get me started on how weird this is. THREE years? I would say six months. Once you’re past 35, you’ll see how your life accelerates out of control, like a Snowpiercer train. All you can do is to hold onto it for as long as you can. It won’t be long, believe me).

When I wrote about it, I said that it was good entertainment for a Friday night after work, a fun ride that didn’t expect you to think all that much. The apes were a lot more interesting than the humans and Caesar delivered my favourite line of that year, brief but distinct and memorable. The film was a little disappointing in terms of gender aspect; the only woman was an utterly uninteresting love interest. But I was mesmerized by the wonders of the motion capture technology, which made the apes absolutely believable and I ended up giving it a 4/5.

Now that I’m writing about the follow-up Dawn of the Planet of the Apes I can’t help thinking that I could as well post that review over again, just updating the title.

It’s the same kind of film: a near future adventure in San Francisco, apes gracefully swinging between rooftops and high trees, mankind facing the negative consequences of actions taken by evil individuals. It’s got an old-style matinee vibe to it, with a cute message about how we all should trust and be kind to each other.

There are a couple of things that set the films apart:

  • This one has Jason Clarke as the “good guy” instead of James Franco. I liked Franco better, but I haven’t any particular reason for it; it’s just my personal preferences. They’re both generic characters. They serve their place as background to the ape show, but they’re not particularly memorable.
  • There are a few more female characters in Dawn than in Rise, but none is a leader and they’re all assigned to do what women usually do I cinema. Clarke’s girl friend is kind and takes care of the sick and injured. Caesar’s partner is there to give birth to cute ape babies and to be a victim of a disease, to suffer so that a human can come and rescue her. For an inexplicable reason she carries a silly head decoration – I suppose it’s there so we can identify her because as we all know, the first priority of every female – ape or woman – is to care about her good looks. I’m not suggesting it’s a sexist movie. But it is a little bit lazy and I think they easily could have done better if they’d wanted to. Even in the original movie you can see the female apes doing more than giving birth and tending to babies: one of them is a scientist.
  • We get to know the apes a lot better this time around. We’re introduced to different characters with different agendas, some of them evil and plotting. There’s also a lot more of communication going on, both among the apes themselves and between apes and men. Especially in the beginning, most of this communication is done by the usage of a special ape sign language, which is translated to us with the help of subtitles. This is beautiful to watch and once again I’m reminded of that I’d really like to learn sign language myself. Sadly they start to rely more on ordinary speech the longer we get into the film. If the decision was on me, I’d rather have seen them using signs all way through.

All in all, despite my minor grumbling about poor female characters, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a perfectly fine movie. It’s unapologetic escapism, but there is also a stroke of seriousness in it, especially now with the news reports we get from Ukraine and Gaza about the seemingly unsolvable conflicts between groups of people. Distrust breeds distrust and violence follows on violence in a never-ending circle. Voices of reason on both sides will drown in the tide of fear and anger, over and over again.

When the next movie in this series comes out in a couple of years I assume it will contain some kind of hope and resolution to the conflict, the mandatory third-part-in-a-trilogy closure. Sadly I doubt we’ll have come as far in the real world.

Consumer information
I’ll finish by giving the kind of consumer information that I look for when it comes to this type of movies.

  1. As always look for a big screen. I watched it in 2D and didn’t feel as if I missed out on anything.
  2. Yes, there is a stinger after the text credits, but it’s very subtle and consists only of sound. If people around you are talking as they’re leaving the theatre you might miss out on it altogether and you can as well look it up on the webs and see what it’s about. I was more intrigued by a sign towards the end of the credits that informed me that, if I remember it correctly, this movie had created jobs for 15 000 people. Considering how long it took to get through the text credits, most of them were mentioned by name.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (Matt Reeves, US 2014) My rating: 4/5

Written by Jessica

July 20, 2014 at 8:06 pm