Movie Review: Dawn of the Planet of The Apes (2014)

Posted: March 21, 2015 in Action
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Dawn Of The Planet Of Apes

Ten years after a hyper-intelligent chimp named Caesar l(Andy Serkis) led a rebellion to break free from an animal testing lab, humanity is on the brink of extinction thanks to a pandemic called the simian flu.  What’s left of humankind in America is divided between a  militaristic rabble-rouser named Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) and a non-confrontational leader of another group of the colony named Malcolm. (Jason Clarke) Malcom’s only goal is to get a generator running, and provide electricity to the colony, which includes his wife Ellie (Kerri Russell) and son Alexander (Kodi Smit-McPhee)  Ape society is also divided between Caesar, and an angry vengeful ape named Koba (Toby Kebell) who distrusts humans, and wants to wipe them off the face of the earth.  Malcolm and Caesar strike up an uneasy truce, and Malcolm starts to fix the generator, but will the fragile truce between ape and human be undermined by Dreyfus and Koba?

This is a poorly written, poorly acted piece of science fiction.  Everyone in the audience knows that a confrontation is coming, yet the writers waste time on the pandemic, and the people who are left after the pandemic.  By the way pandemics never kill this many people, but this movie has nothing to do with logic.  Human beings are portrayed as either tree-hugging peaceniks who don’t want to bother anyone, or beer swilling-gun-toting yahoos who want to shoot anything that moves.  Ape society is even more simplistic, there’s Caesar, and there’s someone trying to take his throne.  Malcolm is such a poorly written milquetoast character, that almost anyone would want different leadership. Koba is such a paranoid nutball that Caesar looks reasonable by comparison.  And how can apes learn to talk English in a span of 10 years.  Caesar is a genetically altered intelligent ape, where did Koba get the intelligence to speak?  Who don’t the female apes speak?   Don’t females have something to say?  The last 45 minutes is just violence porn at its worst.

The acting is pathetic.  When James Franco doesn’t do a sequel to a blockbuster, that’s a hint that the script is not what it should be.  CGI Andy Serkis grunts and groans a few words of English, but he doesn’t inspire anyone to follow him.  Roddy McDowell was the only actor who gave Caesar any complexity, intelligence, guile, wit, charm and yes a bit of ruthlessness when needed.  Serkis’ performance was limited by what he could say, but his tone was angry and suspicious all the time.  Toby Kebbell overplays Koba to the point of parody.  Jason Clarke’s performance is a big zero, Kerri Russell and Kodi-Smit McPhee are given nothing to do or say, and Gary Oldman, who should have been the star of this movie is given less than nothing to say, and is not worthy of a paycheck in this role.

The move is too long and the first hour drags, the action sequences are nothing spectacular, and if CGI floats your boat, knock yourself out with this film, I don’t like films whose big selling point is CGI and have nothing else to offer.

The Dawn of The Planet of the Apes.   Hopefully the sun is setting on this series soon.

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