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Evil Movie Review: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Yup, that’s right. I watched it. I did wait for it to come out on blu-ray, but I sat through all two hours of this CGI-laden film. And now you get to read my scathing review from your comfortable couch, crotchety cubicle, stinky subway seat, or wherever it may be that your diabolical self has the time. Enjoy, and as always, spoilers to follow.

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Let me first comment that I kind of hated the first movie in this series, Rise of the Planet of the Apes. It was incredibly over done, and one of my favorite actors James Franco did frankly a shitty job playing a silly scientist that could easily detach himself from his work of vivisection even though he had a chimpanzee he named Caesar living in his home as a family member.

Maybe that abysmal reboot of the series left me with low expectations, but I was pleasantly surprised by this movie. The first thing I should throw out there is that there is a LOT of CGI. Probably too much at times. But the movie-makers had two options: dress people up in costumes to be a evolved group of apes or just CGI the whole thing. They chose the latter. And while at times it was tough to belief, if you just accepted this concept, that these are not the apes we know and love but instead this oddly evolved and modified group of apes more alike our ancestors in evolution than their ancestors, then it was easier to enjoy the movie.

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The introduction to the movie was pretty well done and in many ways reminded me of World War Z. In a couple of minutes, not showing anything in depth, the movie had painted a picture where the apes previously seen in the first film had contracted a Simian virus that caused the death of probably 90+% of the human population. (If only, right?). And so there are only a couple surviving groups of people throughout the world, trying to re-establish infrastructure and rebuild their broken planet.

The opening scene after this was a little crazy. Flash forward to a wooded scene with a large group of sophisticated apes, dressed in war paint, attacking a herd of elk from the tree tops in a rainy northern California forest. This was the first of many scenes in the movie that was a little bit over the top, but did introduce us to several characters in the ape tribe that would become important.

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Next we come across a group of people in the forest that are actually heading towards a broken down water dam in the hopes of restoring power to the city just south of them, San Francisco. What happens is the humans spook when they run in to these walking, and yes talking, apes, and in a pathetic attempt of unnecessary self defense they shoot one of the apes. This results in Caesar overpowering the apes and kicking them out of his forest.

Jordan-Clarke

To sum up the movie as quickly as possible, a power struggle between the two groups, apes and humans, ensues and personal vendettas as well as bigotry and speciesism leads to the conflict at the center of the film. Meanwhile a small band of humans and apes forms to try to set things right with the world, establishing peace again. And throughout all of this you will be bombarded with incredulous imagery like apes on horses and wielding machine guns as they stampede in to war with the humans.

Pretty corny, right? Yeah, pretty much. But I still liked the film for several reasons. In particular, the lead villain ape named Koba was very well done. His face is covered with scars, reminders of his previous enslavement and torture by humans when he was a chimp in a laboratory. Koba hate humans, and even though he is Caesar’s right hand man he quickly learns to despise Caesar for being willing to work with the humans. What results is a plot by Koba to overthrow Caesar and start all out war with the humans. Koba is a very well done character. His facial expressions and manipulations of various characters, ape and human alike, throughout the film are superbly done.

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The other thing that I enjoyed in this film was the interactions between and behavior displayed by the apes. The producers must have spent a long time watching documentaries to get this right.

And while it was over the top, I have to admit watching gorillas run in to battle alongside chimps on horses was, well, bad ass. You just wanted to route for the apes, even when they became cruel and murderous towards people. Cause let’s face it, some people deserve it.

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This movie won’t win any awards in my book, but I was not disappointed by it either. It was worth the 2 hours on a rainy afternoon.

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Posted on January 21, 2015, in Evil Movie Reviews, Movies, Reviews and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Yeah, the humans were quite forgettable, I agree. Strangely I was ok with that, but maybe that’s my animal rights personality showing through, wanting the apes to rise above (in a deserved fashion of course). The ending of the movie definitely left us open for another. I think the next one is scheduled for 2017…

  2. You know I honestly preferred Rise to Dawn. But I will admit that I was right there with you – almost cheering the apes on as they attacked the humans. What did you think of the ending of the movie? It would be pretty easy to assume that the next move (if there is a next move) would be to make the apes start that world domination that we are “used” to but do you think Caesar’s eyes mean anything or are people just jumping to conclusions?

  3. I watched this recently too. I thought the human characters were disappointing. Jason Clarke and Keri Russell were oddly forgettable. In my opinion, that left the film uneven and less interesting than it ought to have been. Nice review.

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