Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Time/place: 10:40 showing at Krikorian San Clemente
I loved Rise of the Planet of the Apes when I first saw it – a surprisingly wonderful movie that made nods to the original movie and took its story in a new direction. This sequel continues that new direction, and while I went in expecting to enjoy it, I wasn’t prepared for just how touching, tragic, and fantastic it actually is. I wasn’t prepared for what may very well be the best movie of the year.
Yep 🙂 .
My reviews aren’t really traditional reviews; I tell you what I liked or didn’t like about a movie, but I’m not sitting here typing with any false sense of authority on what is good or bad. Apparently, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is garnering high critical praise, though, and I’m tossing my voice of approval into this mix. The movie is perfect, in every way.
To begin with, let’s talk about how amazing these apes look, shall we? If I didn’t know better, I’d be convinced that the producers actually created genetically advanced animals to play the roles in this movie – the computer effects are astoundingly photo-real. My pal, Nick, referenced a critic who mentioned a shot of lead-ape Caesar sitting in the rain, and lauded the realism of the effect-work… and when I saw the moment (it’s in the beginning), I smiled; that critic had it very correct. Rather quickly, though, the amazing graphics took a backseat in my mind, because they were only there to better serve the story – and the story was engaging enough that these computer-generated apes simply became characters in the story.
So, yes, the story and the script are fantastic. It is certainly a sequel, so if you’re the type of person who would see this without seeing the first movie, you’ll miss a great deal – but, then again, if you’re that type of person, you probably won’t mind 🙂 . I’ll really spare you any details (obviously, if you want to find out more before you see it, that info is out there), but I was quite astounded by how beautiful it all was. From a storytelling point-of-view, from a character point-of-view… it was a really touching movie. Heck, I got teary at a number of points, and let me remind you that I am talking about a movie about talking apes. Having said that, though, it’s not just wonderful for a movie about talking apes, it’s simply wonderful, period. There are no villains, here – and even when there are, they make sense. That is why I referenced this movie as a tragedy earlier – it’s a sad tale of poor choices, miscommunication, and seemingly inevitable paths. Aside from all of my moist-eye-ness, I was even struck by a couple of moments that elicited an audible reaction from me in other directions: a good laugh, an OMG-esque “woahoho.” The script is smart, it moves along at a good pace while still handling splendid character moments (I love you, Gary Oldman), and there wasn’t a choice I thought was out of step.
Before I leave you with a review-grade you can probably see coming from miles away, a good 35% of this positive review (a percentage I admittedly pulled from where the sun don’t shine.. but it sounds good) is due to the movie’s score and how it is used. The movie opens with a terrifically sad piano piece (what seems to be the theme for human-tragedy, as it appears later), but elsewhere in the movie we are treated to bombastic horns and even 2001: A Space Odyssey-esque choral hauntings. At times the music simply fills the background perfectly, and at others it is the only sound presented. It’s music that might just keep you in the theater through the credits, even if you usually skedaddle. Heck, even a certain song choice that shows up midway through the movie is a great kick, and brought about some chuckles in the audience.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is, as I mentioned above, I think the best movie of the year thus far. I’ve really enjoyed others, yes, but even within that fond affection, I am aware of minor issues or things I would’ve liked to have seen be a little different. In the case of this movie, however, I not only love it for Mark reasons, but it’s technically and artistically ideal – a combination that leads me to label this movie with a simple word: perfect.