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."
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!
MORE APE TALK?
Here are tweets I enjoyed (and one I wrote) on the movie that's got everyone talking right now.
The sheer amount of great VFX work in 'Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes' is truly bananas.— edgarwright (@edgarwright) July 13, 2014
Remember when Hugo beat Rise of the Planet of the Apes in Best Visual Effects? #neverforget— Sam Coff (@SamRS72) July 13, 2014
imagining planet of the apes replaced with llamas i'm in heaven— Twaimz (@twaimz) July 13, 2014
During DAWN OF APES I kept hoping Keri would talk to Cornelia about the meds she was giving her so the movie would pass Bechdel Test— Nathaniel Rogers (@nathanielr) July 12, 2014
Idea for next Planet of Apes sequel. Make it a musical!— Betty Jo Tucker (@MovieAddictRevu) July 11, 2014
Lots of fun stuff for girls in the new Planet of the Apes. You can pretend you're Sad Human Mom or Sick New Ape Mom.— Laurie Kilmartin (@anylaurie16) July 12, 2014
The last two lines of dialogue in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes are so great I was silently praying they'd be the last ones. And they were.— Scott Weinberg (@scottEweinberg) July 12, 2014