Friday, July 11, 2014

Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes May Be The Best Film Of The Summer...

...And it's almost definitely the smartest. Believe me, I always walk in to a Planet of the Apes movie with a certain level of fear. Maybe they'll miss the mark. Maybe they'll try to make this an action movie a la J.J. Abrams' Star Trek... which believe me, would NOT work for this franchise at all. So stepping into Dawn... I had to hold my breath for a bit because it could so easily have gone wrong.

The advent of Rise was surprising enough as it was. See I didn't think there was a whole lot more anyone could do with the Planet of the Apes franchise after the original series had essentially brought us full circle... and then Tim Burton had just decimated the property. But somehow it worked again in 2011. I guess broad social commentary in an epic post-apocalyptic sci-fi world will always have some level of appeal. But beyond that, Dawn is just a really intelligent movie. It actually takes the time to ask genuine questions and it goes through a process to try and effectively answer them. So what we get as an audience is a big budget sci-fi film that allows us to think... which, in all sincerity (and believe me I still enjoy the new Star Treks... at least the first one), is what has been so sorely missing from other major rebooted sci-fi properties of late.
I'm so incredibly relieved to see what Matt Reeves has done with this movie. Because he obviously gets what Planet of the Apes is. He effectively found a way to jump into Rupert Wyatt's Rise setup without missing a beat. From the writers' room up, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a true successor to Rise... and it, in fact, overcomes the negative shortcomings of that earlier film (like subpar human performances), allowing it to break through to the next level. This is one of those movies I'm gonna be talking about for a long time to come.
Flawless CG combined with an exceptional story of two cultures trying desperately not to make the mistakes they know they are prone to, amounts to the best of the best in filmmaking.
Literally, the only negative I can draw from this movie is, there wasn't enough Gary Oldman. That's probably because I think Gary Oldman is too good an actor for the role he was given. But consider this, Andy Serkis as Caesar is the star of these films. The humans involved have always been secondary. And somehow, these flicks have made the audience 100% okay with rooting for another species. They make us actively compare ourselves to that species and understand them... perhaps even better than the mess of humans that could represent us after such a disaster.
I can't praise Dawn of the Planet of the Apes enough. It accomplished everything I wanted it to while still allowing the opportunity for another film to flourish in the near future. And I'm so glad Matt Reeves is signed on for the next one. I just hope nothing slows the production on this third installment because I would love to see another Apes movie in 2016!

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