Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (PG-13)

8 Stars

If anything, marvel at the xylophone in the score.

Because Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is merely ‘great enough.’

This is a movie for those who like the first. It’s conceivably enjoyable for the uninitiated, but I don’t advise it.

The film opens with credits akin to Edge of Tomorrow; a smattering of newscasters and politicians reporting on the spreading influence.

The visual images are grafted onto an international map in which an infection travels like a web. The dreaded lines arc from to dot to dot, like the mice in The Rescuers hopping a seagull from New York to New Orleans. Coincidentally enough, much of Dawn is shot in the same Louisiana city.

And I’m not sure if the rest of you know, but they’re letting broads into the screenwriting business now. This is the second movie I’ve seen lately with a female screenwriter (Amanda Silver). The other, Jane Goldman, is credited as a writer on X-Men: Days of Future Past.

Look fellas, if we don’t do something, pretty soon the Hollywood sign’ll be painted pink!

Anyway. The difficult thing about science fiction is the viewer’s required to buy in. Whatever universe the filmmakers create, no matter how fantastic, the world must follow the rhythms of reality.

If genetically evolved apes fight their way free of society’s clutches, the battle will be considerably more horrific than what occurs in Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

I don’t delight in dismembered limbs, but the lack of realistic action creates an inescapable awareness. One can’t help but realize the humans are ethereally cushioned from agony.

I like the first movie, but I didn’t love it like some people. The main problem is the rating. PG-13 movies are usually four-quadrant films: Enjoyable by men, women, the young and the old. Thereby maximizing profit.

So although the Dawn is better than the Rise, I’m not all that excited about Planet of the Apes.

It works because it’s quality filmmaking. The camerawork is excellent. There are several long takes, including one on top of a tank. The lens does two complete turns for a double panorama shot on a set full of teeming apes.

I’m not sure if they’re extras or just CGI, because the effects are strong. Ironically enough, the only time I noticed a slip is when an ape is carrying a human, and the flailing legs are clearly animated.

Plus, the writing’s strong…for PG-13.

The dichotomies drawn between apes and humanity are well-crafted. Each individual character (be it simian or homo sapiens) is well-rounded, independently recognizable and compellingly motivated.

The stakes are high, the settings are elaborate and all the right themes are explored.

The climax leads me to believe this isn’t the last we’ll see of the Planet of the Apes. Perhaps there’s even a plan for quadrilogy.

But who knows if we’ll still be interested after number three?

Be that as it may, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is great. That’s all.

Catch it in the theater if you’ve got an interest. You’ll like it.

Just don’t wait for anything after the credits. Apart from a quote that says the production supported 15,000 jobs (which isn’t the clearest statistic) there’s just more ape noise.

And you’ll get plenty of that along the way.

Thoughts, perchance?

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