Presented by / 7/11/2014 / 1 Comment / , , ,

DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES

year: 2014 rating: ***
DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES begins after mankind has been partially wiped out by the virus caused from the first movie, RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES…

And while this DAWN is a predecessor, it’s also a chance to begin in a much better, action-packed fashion than RISE. In a literal sense, the dawn has the sun rising... Thus, so far, we’ve twice been catapulted into an APES franchise reboot – and now they finally got it right, somewhat.

At the end of the first movie, Cornelius led his furry legion into the wilderness just outside San Francisco – here’s where they now live comfortably, using Sign Language to communicate what the audience reads with subtitles. Although every now and then the apes screech out a few human words...

But it’s Cornelius, with an expression of a punished kid just daring to get spanked one more time, or a method actor purposely holding back disgruntled rancor, who wields the true gift of gab with various commands, threats, or both at the same time: On the human side, James Franco’s scientist, the original owner of the trained baby Cornelius, is gone, replaced by a group of ragged survivors led by Jason Clarke’s Malcolm. In this pivotal role, Clarke does a great job, combining the perfect balance of pathos with intrepid urgency.

The logical member of a group of ragtag city survivalists, it’s through Malcolm where the real suspense occurs. He visualizes the spooky depths of the gorilla-laden forest, and eventually barters with Cornelius to get use of a dam on the ape’s (damn dirty) territory, giving his people enough power to call for possible backup. Some of the humans don't trust the apes, and vice versa... That’s the plot in a nutshell.

While Gary Oldman's military-minded Dreyfuss serves as a potential lead villain for upcoming installments, the main heavy is a vicious warrior named Koba, instigating war in a sneaky manner that causes the apes, sans Cornelius, to invade the humans in an all-out battle with guns and horses.

In-between bursts of noisy action are tedious moments of downtime, mostly involving Cornelius torn between man and beast. Yet even these melodramatic sequences lead to some kind of adventurous turmoil. And while lacking the addictive science-fiction creativity of the original series, replaced with a computerized Nature Gone Awry template, this DAWN makes up for what didn’t RISE initially.

year: 2011 rating: **
RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES: Imagine if DEEP BLUE SEA were called JAWS 5... Although the basic premise of CONQUEST OF THE PLANET OF THE APES is mirrored here, this has nothing to do with THE PLANET OF THE APES franchise, instead centering on a bunch of abused monkeys who deserve a better place to climb.

Too much attention is focused on the dream drug that, while being used on experimental chimps, might erase the effects of Alzheimer’s in humans, and is what Hitchcock called a McGuffin: the device driving the plot that the audience doesn’t care about. It’s too bad the writers, and characters herein, cared about nothing else.

The eventual breakout of the apelike Alcatraz… led by James Franco’s research chimp, Caesar, born with the effects of the wonder drug… takes way too long to happen. After which the group of angry brutes stomp across a bridge and… well let’s just say, mankind has nothing to worry about thereafter.

Roddy McDowall's Caesar, after taking over the world in CONQUEST, gives a powerful speech that – if Award shows didn’t take themselves so seriously back then – should have warranted a nomination. Here we have a bunch of neat looking computerized simians, but none merit enough humanity for the audience to really care about (anymore than a dog or cat).

So while the original franchise earned an uprising after three previous films, in this big budget computer-driven reboot, right when things pick up... it’s all over.
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  1. Okay I saw this this morning sitting on a fancy leather seat in the XD 3D auditorium at Bella Terra. $17.50 at 10am for any movie is insane. That being said, sound, cushy seat, and visuals were awesome if I only thought the move was as awesome. I didn't hate this movie and I thought Jason Clarke was great, from ZERO DARK THIRTY fame from where I recognize him. And Keri Russell, its good to see her in a movie. I know she has that new show The Americans, but good to see her in a movie.

    Well there was just alot of monkey business going on. I know I know Rise of the Planet of the Apes, there's gonna be monkeys. Who knew?

    I dug it more than the first one. If there's another one I'd go see it. Unfortunately Gary Oldman seems wasted in his role. More Gary Oldman please.

    I definitely don't need to pay $17.50 again but if it was $6 or $7 I'd recommend it.

    Great review. Keep it up.

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