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Tweet of the Capsule of the Dawn of The Planet of the Apes

Of the. of the. of the. Help, stuck in a prepositional loop! I regret to inform that there is no full review of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) -- you may have noticed unusually sparse off my game posting -- but I press on with this exhaustively multi-tasking post. It's a list. It's a tweet roundup. It's a review.

I can't go on. I'll go on."
-Samuel Beckett 

Were I to write a traditional review of the surprisingly strong sequel to the surprisingly good Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) it would essentially be some sort of fussy expansion and tangent filled detours of these 10 points:

1. VFX! (Oscar frontrunner for sure).
2. Jason Clarke's soulless magnetism from Zero Dark Thirty' flips super well for soulful magnetism as the human lead.
3. Performance capture magic nearly across the board from Nick Thurston as Blue Eyes, Toby Kebbell as Koba, Karin Conoval as Maurice (I want to take one of Maurice's classes in the worst way) and the Godfather of the field, Andy Serkis reprising his leading Caesar role.
4. People will want Serkis to have an Oscar again but if any of them push for Supporting it shows that they don't actually believe the performance is one of the 5 best by a leading man this year. (Watch everyone push for supporting because that's what people pretend when they actually wouldn't nominate a performance in a leading category even though it is one (see also, oh, Cate Blanchett in Notes on a Scandal in 2006) but they don't respect supporting players enough to worry about usurping one of their slots.
5. The brilliant Judy Greer (who plays Cornelia) is to this movie what Toni Collette was to both Tammy and Hitchcock. THIS IS MY DESPERATE PLEA TO FILMMAKERS/EXECUTIVES: if you have a nothing part that could be played by an extra, be a better f***ing person and give a struggling actor who is way behind on his/her rent a break for a change so they can have something on their resume and stop casting stars in extra parts. It's embarrassing for everyone: the star (who will suddenly look like they can't get a real job), the fans of that star (they will feel slighted), and the movie itself (which will suddenly raise concerns that it was made in the editing room and probably left a bunch of crucial stuff out). It's just a dick move in general. Stop doing it.
6. Matt Reeves direction is often super tense with some fine shot compositions but after this and the well executed remake Let Me In I'm curious to see if he has any originality in him? (Cloverfield is by far his weakest movie and it's the only one that isn't based on someone else's template.)
7. Favorite shot: The apes background hanging swinging spywork behind oblivious humans testing their weapons. So funny and tense and involving.
8. Scariest scene: I couldn't burrow into my seat quickly enough in that second scene where Koba plays dumb for the gun-toting humans. Yikes! That's how you make a movie's antagonist pop (Gary Oldman is truly dull in comparison, sorry about it.)
9. This one has, to some visible extent, the same strengths and weakness as Godzilla: great non-human characters, smart action sequences, visuals that actually evoke awe rather than just try to by being "big" ... but all of that is somewhat marred by boilerplate human "types" and a complete lack of interest in anyone with a vagina beyond their child-rearing function. It must suck so bad to be a straight woman sometimes because the straight men who control showbiz never paint a flattering portrait of how men feel about women.
10. The whole team is totally on point: awesome production design, moody cinematography, strong editing, sound and score.
11. I endorse this movie's political message even though it's über depressing. America's self-destructive violent love affair with guns HAS TO END. Who needs the sci-fi in all these dystopia movies when we are busy creating an actual one without any redeeming qualities like talking apes.
12. I totally enjoyed it but I'm still trying to figure out why critics are acting like it's the new Citizen Kane.

That was 12 not 10. I will never not suck at math. I'm like the dumb humans who said there were 80 apes in the woods and then like a thousand show up in the very next scene. Okay, bye! 


Here are tweets I enjoyed (and one I wrote) on the movie that's got everyone talking right now.





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Reader Comments (14)

I haven't seen any critics fawning to the point where you could write #12. It's a great, great blockbuster with a lot of complex themes coursing throughout. That warrants praise.

July 13, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermma

mma -- it does warrant praise, yes. But some of the praise has alarmed me (not necessarily from legit critics) but there is a lot of BEST MOVIE OF THE YEAR / EVER happening on twitter. I'm not trying to be contrarian. I liked it a lot. I just don't think it's appreciably all that much better than the other really good blockbusters this year (i think it's been a solid year for mainstream blockbusters)

July 13, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Do you think Blanchett's 2006 nom is the most egregious example of category fraud? You bring up it up a lot and it has been more than 7 years.

July 13, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermurtada

murtada -- no, I don't know about THE most but it's a perfect example. Basically everyone knew she wasn't worthy of breaking the great 2006 Actress Lineup so they just were willing to dishonor supporting actresses to champion someone who hadn't earned it who was more famous ;) happens all the time. I hate it. hence my being such a crusader against Category Fraud.

but in the performance capture case I find it even more fascinating because defenders of performance capture will go on and on about how it's just as valid as any other type of performance but just watch them pretend it's supporting (which is a subsconcious admission that it is NOT in fact as valid a performance since they're demoting it.) I can see it coming!

July 13, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I SHOULD ADD -- I very much think Andy Serkis deserves an Special Oscar for 13 years now of trailblazing this kind of performance. He's amazing... in this movie and in other movies where he's done similar work and they really ought to honor him for it.

July 13, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

The women of Babel were the anonymous no names you are crusading for. With your tireless campaign against category fraud. Where are your complaints when supporting performers go lead? As Streep did that very season. What is that? Nothing. You cosigned it.

July 13, 2014 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

Oh 3rtful - you can't even bait me try harder because I cannot even be angered by that only slightly bemused that it makes my point ;)
A) it almost never happens (u can count them on one hand tops in the modern era and you need at least one hand for every year in the modern era in the way I complain about. Lol lead to support)
B) that Streep movie is about the abusive relationship codependent relationship btw boss and employee (both leads) lose either character and the movie aboaultelu ceases to exist
C) even if it did happen regularly it almost never does... It wouldn't be evil because ALL the spoils got I movie stars. They need no protection from the spotlight hogging greed of character actors. Hee!

July 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R


I'm so not a super villain. But if you continue to insist I'll have to thank my husband and makeup man in gratitude.

July 13, 2014 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

3rtful: 1. Streep was a debatable. There ARE roles where it actually is not clear relative to the film's structure whether they should be viewed as co-lead or supporting. EMILY BLUNT was the undebatable supporting role of The Devil Wears Prada. 2. There are VERY few cases of what should be considered, with absolutely no room for debate, supporting roles pitching themselves in lead, such that complaining about it feels exceedingly pointless. Maybe Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society or Anthony Hopkins in The Silence of the Lambs on top of Streep? So, yeah, the reverse is very uncommon, happening maybe one or two times a decade now. Meanwhile, how often does the reverse happen? Let's overview the last five ceremonies:

2013: 1 Undebatable Co-Lead (Barkhad Abdi) and 1 Debatable Lead (Bradley Cooper)
2012: 1 Undebatable Co-Lead (Christoph Waltz)
2011: 1 Debatable Co-Lead (Jonah Hill)
2010: 2 Undebatable Co-Leads (Geoffrey Rush, Christian Bale), 2 Debatable Co-Leads (Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo)
2009: 2 Undebatable Co-Leads (Christopher Plummer, Matt Damon), 1 Debatable Lead (Christoph Waltz)

So, counting only undebatables? 6 of the last 25 nominations. Already that's sketchy, as the amount is just under a quarter. Adding in Debtables? 11 of the last 25. Over 40%. Do you see how DISGUSTING that is?

What about supporting actress? Well:

2013: 1 Undebatable Co-Lead (Julia Roberts)
2012: 1 Undebatable Co-Lead (Helen Hunt)
2011: 1 Undebatable Co-Lead (Berenice Bejo)
2010: 1 Undebatable Co-Lead (Hailee Steinfeld)
2009: 1 Undebatable Co-Lead (Maggie "cannot believe she's this dull" Gyllenhaal)

So, not quite as bad, but the fact that EVERY SINGLE YEAR has an undebatable example (even supporting actor had a year where they had just a single, debatable, performance), is still telling.

July 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

.........Judy Greer was in the movie? I mean, damn. I guess she was bored? Her part didn't even need to motion capture. It could have been completely CGI and not make a bit of a difference.

But I honestly hate how it we're still not at the goddamn Planet of the Apes. Both movies lead to the inevitable instead of actually making it to the inevitable. Irritating.

July 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDerreck.

Derreck, I appreciate that they've started a new franchise from a new point. The original franchise eventually went back to the time of humans, but didn't do it anywhere as good these two have done.

July 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn

Glenn: Based on the first one, that's kind of depressing. Oh, don't get me wrong: Serkis was brilliant and Lithgow was really good. But then you had James Franco, who was in NO WAY suited to that part and, as hard as he tried, he couldn't struggle his way past that, regardless of the theories and ideas of the script being great, he was just WRONG to play a scientist. (Franco has, when he plays smart, the air of a filmmaker, novelist or, even, a stage magician (Yes, in theory, Oz, The Great and Powerful was a better use of your Franco) and he'll probably make a great cinematic Tommy Wiseau. But, yes, he's also really good at playing various flavours of stupid (Spring Breakers, 127 Hours, Pineapple Express and the upcoming The Interview.)) I wouldn't want every Asian actor in parts like this (variety is the second step of how you kill stereotypes, after all), but...Masi Oka would have KILLED IT and the FIRST step to killing stereotypes, is VISIBILITY.

July 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Definitely disagree on Jason Clarke but, as you mentioned, the humans are by far the worst part of the movie. And the plot is tedious and formulaic. That said, I enjoyed it. A surprisingly emotional movie.

July 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBD

Nathaniel, that Bechdel Test post made me choke on my drink, haha. +5pts

Can I ask why in the world Judy Greer had to play a female ape? I'm assuming she can grunt. When you have barely speaking CGI characters, do we really need to play by gender rules?

July 21, 2014 | Unregistered Commentereurocheese

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