Friday, July 11, 2014

Movie Review: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

If I were to make a list of everything that the two new Apes movies did right, it would be a very, very long list, and the number one spot would be reserved for realizing that the interesting aspect of this franchise isn't the humans. It's notable that the apes from Rise are back, while all the humans we met mostly likely died from disease and war. If the same strategy is employed for the third movie in this series, I doubt there'll be many complaints. The human characters were clearly the weak link in this movie, which is less a shame than an observation no one should really care about.

Okay, so better realized human characters would have made watching this an even better theatrical experience. But - again - this is a minor detail; a trivial oversight. Because this was already a fantastic movie, a story of a burgeoning civilization coming into contact with the remnants of one in decline.

The apes were amazing. I don't just mean the effects work, though that was nothing short of incredible. The motion-capture acting was stunningly complex, and the writing (at least as it pertained to non-humans) was nuanced and subtle.

This isn't the first movie this summer where I've applauded digital creations while complaining about the human characters, but this has a few points over Godzilla. First of all, the humans here felt a little flat; they weren't annoyingly idiotic. Secondly, they were the movie's B-plot: this, like Rise before it, was Caesar's movie. I didn't clock time on-screen, but he was far more central to the plot than the well-meaning homo sapiens protagonist.

All in all, this was a great science fiction movie. It fit in nicely with the larger franchise, while still managing to deliver a satisfying story of its own. Definitely one of this year's better genre movies.