[Insert Ape Pun Here] Kloipy has seen Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ kicks off with a rousing hunt scene. Instead of the apes chasing down humans, we are treated to a nearly wordless 10 minutes sequence in which the apes in formation, stalk and take down some elk and nearly escape a bear attack. Though the hunt turns into chaos it is also apparent that the apes had continued to evolve from ‘Rise’ by the fact that they have now established hunting tools, some wearing war paint, some riding horses, and a colony in between the giant redwoods. This society has families, a sort of school, some laws that they have put together, and at the top of the chain stands Caesar. He has taken the leader position and rules it well.
This ape-topia is broken by a group of humans out wandering in the woods looking for an old hydro-electric plant as they have lost power to their small community in the city which threatens to bring anarchy to their streets. One of the humans feels threatened and shoots and injures one of the apes. Caesar, being a fair leader, spares the lives of the humans, but is taken to task by Koba, his second in command for being too soft on the humans. Caesar, though cautious, still feels somewhat of an alliance to the humans based on his upbringing, and wants to be able to live in peace.
Not wanting to look weak in front of his group, he takes the apes with him to the human village and sets up strict boundaries between the two worlds. Showing not only that the apes can talk, but that they aint gonna take no shit from nobody. Dreyfus (Oldman) convinces one of the other humans Malcolm (Jason Clarke) to plead with Caesar for passage to the dam, telling him that things will go back to the way they were during the plague if they are unable to get the power working. Malcolm takes his son and his girlfriend and small band of others back to the forest, and Caesar allows them to work there in exchange that the humans do not bring any guns and that they are out in the time frame he allows them to work in.
This of course does not go as planned, things go awry, which leads to the action packed third act of the film. While the conclusion is thrilling and rivals some of the better action sequences of the past few summers, it really isn’t what makes this film special. While the trailers for this film promise a non-stop ape on human action, that isn’t what this film is about. This is a slow film, not in the bad sense, but it is building this world around it. I’m guessing this is going to be a trilogy and if so this is also one of the stronger second films around.
Knowing that this is a planet of the apes film, the movie smartly focuses mainly on the apes. A lot of the dialogue in the film is done with sign-language, with spoken words peppered throughout. This really gives the film a realistic quality that you can see this species evolving. Not all the apes can speak yet and they still live in semi primitive means. But you can see a society being built around them, the laws they have set up to follow speak to the kind of world the apes want to live in. A world not devoid of violence but one that has guidelines as to what is acceptable, to take them above and beyond just animals.
The humans aren’t ready to give up their place at the top. The plague that wiped out most of the world was called the ‘Simian Flu’ and most of the humans blame the apes already for causing this end of the world scenario. One of the things the movie handles perfectly is not defining real villains. There are some in the film, but they also stem from good intentions and aren’t there just to be ‘bad guys’. There are depth and reasons given to their actions.
The film handles the material seriously and does it in a way that never feels goofy or false. A lot of care was taken into building this world. My highest praise for the film is that it makes the premise believable. It never feels like a b-movie plot, but a logical progression of evolution. If another species would evolve like us, this is what would be natural. It gives us a look into what this burgeoning world would look like in a way none of the previous films of the series did. It makes us want to spend time with the apes, to look deeper into their lives, and how they have come to be.
The film also touches on society in general. How we work together, how we break apart, how even with the ideals we want to live with can sometimes be overtaken by our own violent instincts and prejudices. This message isn’t overwrought in the film but it is something you can feel underneath it all.
The film is not without its faults either. It is a long movie and you can definitely feel the runtime. Some of the third act decisions are easy to see coming a mile away, but it still remains enjoyable, and the action is easy to follow and you feel the consequences of what transpires. It is a great sequel and surpasses ‘Rise’ as a better film.
I’m sure every review of this film will mention the CGI, and I would be remiss to do the same. It really is some of the best CGI used in a modern film. The transition is almost seamless and many times I found myself wondering if they used real apes or if it was just motion capture. Topping this film once again is Andy Serkis, who deserves all the praise he has received for his work. Not only are the movements totally believable, but so much of the film is carried in his facial expressions, giving such a depth and real character to Caesar. This is not someone just prancing around in a monkey mask, this is an actor truly delving into a role and making it real. You feel his anguish, his pain, his strength, and love all throughout the movie. It really is one hell of an achievement and hopefully this will be the year his work gets recognized.
If you want a blockbuster film that has more of a brain, this is definitely the film to go see this summer.
And fuck, I’ve been restrained this whole time.
I went ape for it, I went bananas. No more monkey business, this film is ape-tastic!
Saw some of the the Apes marathon on SyFy yesterday. Always appreciate what Mssrs Roddy, Hunter and Chuck were able to do despite the limitations of the era’s F/X etc.
In other words, this is something to jump up (and down) about?
I wouldn’t throw poo at it!
CAn’t wait to leave work to read this. Looking forward to this film so much. Am even thinking of springing for Imax.
We saw it in regular old 3D, I am not sure the IMAX would have been any better. I try an save IMAX for movies that truly deserve the spectacle like Gravity or maybe Giant Robots!
I have yet to see tranny 4
Great job Kloipy! Great review. I totally agree. My only nit to be picked was that sequence with the apes firing automatic weapons on horseback and not killing the ape in front of them. I really do wish that CGI folks pay more attention to such ‘minor’ details!
Yes, it was a long flick and slow building, but i really enjoyed that. lt was not revolutionary but it did a great job of telling a story.
I do think there was one villain, although he shall remain nameless until the rest of the folks see the flick.
Thanks TKD! I like that they took time with the film as well. Really built the world well. I was surprised how quickly I took to the characters, how well built they made them. Literally there were times I forgot I was looking at a CGI creation
Hoping for Beagley Beagley/Grape Ape cameo in next entry, but am not holding breath.
Magilla Gorrila has a slight ape-pperance
This is how you review this film. Harold’s review is how you don’t review this film. Proverbial blind drunk illiterate trio of chimps let loose in a typewriter factory would have done better.
Good review kloipy….everything I’ve seen of this makes me think it will be good.
It is really good. It’s not ‘THE GREATEST FILM ALIVE’ as some have made it out to be, but it really is an enjoyable, thoughful film
Well I’ll be a monkey’s uncle! Great review Kloipy. It’s on my list as soon as the crowds clear out a little.
Thanks Barfy! Let me know what you think when you see it
So it is an attempt to redo battle of the planet of the apes then? That’s the film that had great potential in the series that they botched completely and turned into almost unwatchable drivel.
I don’t think this is a trilogy in the making. There’s been little snippets all the way through Rise (haven’t seen this, but bet it’s the same) that set up the franchise up to Planet itself. I reckon they’re going chronologically, and next up will be a “filler” movie between this and Planet. Civilisation of the planet of the Apes or something.
Genuinely think they’re in this one for the long haul. And why the fuck not?
This was always the great strength of the originals. Conquest was practically modeled on the Watts riots, and all of them, bar Escape (which is goofy) and Battle (which is terrible) take the high concept and treat it with deadly seriousness.
I’m all for this franchise. If they can keep the quality high then HUZZAH! It could be one for the ages.
All from the stunning Rise trailers, which took something nobody gave a red one for and made it into a “must see”.
I really hope you dig it. I think if you liked Rise, I’m sure you will like this one more. It’s not a perfect film but it’s pretty damn solid.
What makes this one stand apart from the old Apes sequels is that yes, the movie is serious, but the real themes aren’t as cut and dry as the old ones, and –to my eyes–they excise the sin of just blatantly preaching their messages. Even in the mostly good Escape and Conquest, they start bashing you over the head with the message, be it with an ape-wielded gun-butt or a dead baby chimp.
They really take it to the next level, I thought.
One thing though- it ain’t a planet of the apes film without a motherfucker of a downer ending. They had better keep them intact- I WANT to see someone shoot a baby chimp with a machine gun, or exterminate all life on earth or whatever.
Opens here on Friday. Can’t wait.
One thing I a curious about, is what they’re going to do about Escape- they broke continuity for RIse (not ape from the future being the source of intelligence). Curious to see where they go. I think they’ll stop with the world being exterminated by mental morlocks in Beneath.
I think it’s better they didn’t go the Escape route, no need to involve time travel. If they are leading up to Planet, I don’t see how that whole movie isn’t neutered since the order they are tackling these.
I did catch most of Conquest the other night….solid film that really hits the skids with Ceaser’s speech at the end. The change in tone is so jarring and would have made for such a better ending keeping the militant tone. Christ, with the fires burning in the background, that speaking of hope just rang hollow. I realize why they did that, but still.
It’s in Rise, there’s news programmes about NASA astronauts going awol. Quite a lot of subtle hints, but it does look like they’ve thrown the cyclical time travel stuff in the crapper.
Apparently the orig. ending of Conquest had them killing the cop prisoners etc. and WAS a downer of an ending. No Roddy as Peacemaker ending. I agree his speech is tacked on and then some.
I prefer Escape actually, to Conquest and Beneath. If they could have kept up the same tone throughout–you know the ‘does he talk?’ “Only when she lets me” routine–I think it would have been a classic. As it is it’s still pretty good.
Plus it has scads of neato early ’70’s plywood pannelling. Can’t get enough of that for my money you know.
Battle has that ridiculously terrible ‘choreagraphed’ battle in the trees at the end w/ Sheriff Lobo and Roddy. First they’re on one branch then dropped below to another then running back across the last one etc. it’s a mess. And they spent 5 cents on it, all of it on the school busses.
Def. one time you are better off w/ the original.
I haven’t seen Escape in a long time, so I can’t justly compare it to Conquest. Battle, though, is pretty ordinary to put it mildly
Battle is shit. And the crying statue at the end makes me want to punch everyone involved with it in the neck. The only worthwhile bit of the film is Caesar shouting “FIGHT THEM LIKE APES” which is fucking hilariously awful.
I liked BATTLE, but I haven’t seen it since I was like 10 or 11 years old. I just remember the scenes where the gorilla murders the kid and then Cesar killing the gorilla, breaking their big taboo of Ape killing Ape. As a kid those scenes stuck with me.
I’m never going to watch that movie again those because I just know it won’t stand up. Like a girl you picked up in a bar drunk, it is sometimes good not to go back and get a better look when you’re clear headed.
Do not go anywhere near Battle, seriously. It’s total turd. If Burton’s atrocity didn’t exist it would be the worst by a country mile.
Not least of which is because of how hard it shits on conquest. They make up a load of bollocks about how Taboo the word “no” is. It’s honestly terrible
Cricket starts again today:
That’s still intact. The original ending is Caesar’s speech being all about bloody vengeance before the ape hoard rips the governer apart. They shat it and had Mcdowell record a softer speech. It’s got a hell of a wallop if you see the original.
The order is: Planet>Rise>Conquest=Escape>Beneath>>>>>>>Battle>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Burton’s piece of shit.
The top 5 all of something to recommend though.
That’s interesting regarding Conquest. I hadn’t seen it since I was a kid, in pieces on television, and then I watched the unrated version on Blu-Ray and was surprised to find out how stark and revolutionary the conclusion actually is. I guess I need to go back and check out what was released into theaters. The ending of the uncut film is really top-notch, Caesar standing there, inscrutable to emotion, watching all the havoc as you just hear the apes screaming on the soundtrack.
I saw the original ending first, and I have to say that the addition makes it markedly worse. It really is an incredible kick to the nuts.
All the endings of PotA are remarkably bleak: Planet (statue of liberty), Beneath (end of the world), Escape (guns down a baby chimp!, Conquest (riot), Battle (Crying Statue), Burton’s PoS (Aperaham Lincoln), Rise (disease spread).
I can’t think of another franchise as downbeat as this.
Was Battle’s ending really that downbeat? I remember hating the crying statue bit and thinking it the worst thing in the entire series –this was, of course, before Apebraham Lincoln–but if I recall the apes and humans were living in a relative harmony. Unless, the tears and allusions to the bomb are just underlining that they all have annihilation to look forward to at the hands of Chuck.
I never quite bought that, as the entire trajectory seems different from the world Taylor came to. No reason to assume that what Zira and Cornelius experienced would absolutely come to pass for the world Caesar and his kind had built.
Hey kloipy, I haven’t read this yet because I plan on seeing DAWN either Friday or Saturday. After that I’ll check out your review.
(And after I see EDGE OF TOMORROW, I’ll read Xi’s review as well).
Awesome conti, thanks man. How have you been?
Question: should I see APES in 3-D or standard?
I didn’t see it in 3d, but I could tell you that you wouldn’t be missing anything by seeing it standard.
glad to hear you are well my friend
3-D Bananas!!! Yes!! Has appeal and everything–! The director of this is a GENIUS–
3-D bananas have a peel? Oh Bando… groan
That’s some Kloipy level punnery there Bando…
He’s made me proud. quite proud indeed.
I’m not quite sure that was a compliment.
I’ll take it anyway
it’s all yours.
Nice review! I’m hoping to catch this one while it’s still in theaters. Hope hope hope.
Hey Blitz! Hope you’ve been well! Thanks for reading!
Great review Kloipy. I also thought it was a great movie, and the best of the mainstream big-budget summer movies thus far. In fact, I think it might be my favorite of the entire Apes series–not necessarily a stunning accomplishment, but the first movie is pretty damn good and original for its time. What worked for me is something you touched upon–the world-building and the lack of easy villains or spoon-fed themes. Instead of some Avatar-esque “mankind corrupts/destroys the gentle innocent tribe” motif, there was something deeper going on here, about how conflict enters in because of competing ideologies and perceptions, not just because of competing goals or desires.
I think biggest compliment I could think of was that when the big action scenes come, I actually wasn’t rooting for them or ready for them, because I wanted to spend more time in the world, watching the two groups interact. The same was true of the end; I could have easily watched another 45 minutes of the aftermath of what was coming in the wake of that action climax. Yes, the action is phenomenal, but its not something you sit there actively awaiting because you aren’t currently engaged.
Regarding the other Apes movies and the downbeat endings. Although Rise certainly checked off several homages to the old series, including some events that would have concurrence–the Icarus ship, the fact that the ape’s first word of rebellion is “No!” (in keeping with what Cornelius says in Escape)–this new movie really makes it feel like we are headed in a mostly new direction. I personally think it would be a waste of the work already done to try and really make these match the moment where Taylor arrives on the planet. I prefer them as another alternate version of the story.
Given that, I think they have shown an interesting penchant for retaining some of the downbeat elements without embracing them in the same way the old series did. Escape is still the heaviest for that sort of thing–gutted me as a kid–but Rise was interesting in the way it had a hopeful outcome for the apes, but was pure calamity for the humans.
Thanks Jonah! Great to hear from you man. Hope things are well. We’ll have to talk soon. Glad you liked it as much as I did. Clearly a lot of care was put into it.
I watched Rise again at the weekend- it definitely is setting up “planet”. Whether the franchise has enough steam to make it all the way to planet is another question. In theory, it should be next but I don’t think they’re going for it. there are a number of films/ incident to go first. I agree, they’ve rebooted Conquest, and now Battle (from the sounds of it), but it’s significantly different from the old series (no time travel loop/ paradox) to suggest that they’re going a different way.
Regarding Escape- it’s not the heaviest ending (that would be Beneath), but it’s the most brutally incongruous given that much of that film is a fish out of water comedy, and also the most intimate and savage. We like Cornelius and Zira, and don’t want them to die. Not to mention that a guy machine guns a baby chimp. A baby chimp. Fuck me.
You know what bothers me conceptually about these type of “doomsday” movies? The lack of air power decimating apes or zombies or the like. Strategic bombing like B52’s and Stealth bombers coupled with close air support would stop cold any large gatherings of the whatever’s destroying the world.Apes or zombies don’t have their own aircraft or air defense artillery.
Didn’t the book World War Z cover that, how the zombies still could move despite missing limbs and shit, or having their intestines outside their bodies? I’m not saying it was accurate but at least Max Brooks tried to rationalize why air power and artillery were useless.
Man, they blew the adaptation of that book.
hotel echo, anti personell and willy Pete rounds coupled with air bombs and 30mm explosive tipped rounds not to mention saturation bombing would destroy enough zekes to get a handle on the situation fairly quickly. It would destroy apes easily enough.
Well in the new apes humans have been decimated by the plague, so it isn’t like the humans that are left have easy access heavy arsenal.
All you would need is a few planes with napalm to decimate the apes woodland home and the apes with it.
I actually know the answer to this- it’s because the virus has decimated humanity and they don’t have the pilots.
Simple explanation that one.
Yeah, you’re spot on, air support could kick the shit out of the apes, but I think that may be why they went with a virus this time.
Yes and no.
WWZ didn’t cover air power, kind of skimmed over it. The point was the lack of resources meant that planes and shit were actually devolving back to WW2 levels. Instead of super smart stealth bombers and whatnot, you basically wanted something that would drop bombs/ cargo then fuck off again with the minimum amount of maintenance.
Also, pilots weren’t trained to fly “old” non-computer driven planes. So many struggled. The rationale, though, for why they didn’t follow Xi’s plan (because let’s face it, Zombies ain’t that bright) was purely a resources thing.
The battle of Yonkers with the artillery bitch slap was about strategic incompetence.
So this virus is so fast moving it just took everybody off the count at the same time? really all you would need to neutralize the apes is a couple of A 10 or other close air support with napalm.
The answer to that one is that humanity doesn’t know about the ape colony in Northern California. The virus is seen as spreading fatally in under a week in Rise. No cure for it either.
So, unless they nuked the apes, who wouldn’t be seen as a threat at that point, then they’ve got limited time to get pilots and shit together. It really is the last pocket of humanity that comes across the apes in Dawn (that’s my understanding of it anyway)
weren’t the apes rampaging through San Francisco? (although how could you tell?)What they lost track of them?
Only whatshisface knew where they went, apparently. Not the best reason I can give, but I think they had more pressing concerns in the aftermath of the rampage.
You’re right though. If they had been intending to clean them out, it would have been an absolute doddle
Yeah and that’s my whole point about all this even if there is a fast moving virus somebody would still get in the air or even on the ground,
I suppose it depends how they set it up- if humanity is fucked, and down to pockets of survivors then it’s not that unrealistic to not napalm them into oblivion. I would also show Humanity bombing the crap out of them at the start of the film, so this is a pocket of survivors of the apes as well- hence why nobody knows they’re there. But that’s reaching a bit
damn it the agree comment should have went to the Extant comment.
Thought it might.
Frigging load of shite that series. Less said about it the better, to be honest.
yep it is one of the very worst I have ever seen.
I have a hard time with the virus part of this. Not everybody would succumb at the same rate.
Right, but it’s allegedly a man made virus that’s X beyond our ken technology. It’s a monster deus ex machina- they can do what they want with it. If they wanted humanity to turn green with pink spots, in theory the virus could do this.
I get that it still bugs me though. I really dislike the dues ex escape clause in movies and TV.
It’s not ideal, no, but I can’t think of another way they could have dealt with it.
yeah I know. that’s what was so brilliant about the original they nuked themselves into second class citizenship.
I also like that nobody actually knew what they had done, bar the Orangutans who were desperate to keep schtum about it.
Oh yeah I forgot about that. Damn the first flick was spectacularly put together.
Rise was good, and much better the magic virus than the random contagious telepathy of conquest. As good an explanation as any.
I was referring to the original POTA. I’ve never seen Rise.
Yeah, I was just trying to point out that while the magic virus is stupid, it’s better than what they had to start with
Also RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD kind of covered it.
They nuked the zombies and all that did was spread the contagion.
How? At ground zero they would vaporize and and spore fungus virus would be nutralized
I’m just telling you what happened in the first movie.
Plus the gunk that made the zombies in ROTLD was almost like magic, so you could say logic and realism has no effect on it.
That’s a unique case. ROTLD ended with a nuke, but it was because the contaminant in the first instance was a gas. Thereby nuking the bejesus out of the trioxin infected zombies returned the gas to the atmosphere.
This came up about half way through when they put the zombie in the oven in the crematorium, and it got into the rain infecting the street kids.
I liked the first two thirds of the movie a lot. But the last third, particularly the generic Hollywood high rise roof top showdown, was a bit of the let down. The first two thirds were handled with thought and intelligence, then the movie went a bit dumb. Overall, it’s a solid film, but it could have been better.
Nice one, Kloipy.
I didn’t rate the ‘first’ one all that much so I’ve not got much enthusiasm for this sequel. Sounds all right & I’ll concede the trailer I saw was decent.
Good to see you Wolf! Hope all is well my friend. Dawn is much better than Rise, would make for a good late night flick at home
It’s the Noted_Sage There_Wolf! Watched some of the 50’s Quartermass bbc series and thought back to your run of reviews of the movies…good stuff.