Dawn of the Planet of the Franchise

In Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014), the apes haven’t dominated the planet yet, because this here is a continuing franchise.  Yay.  Probably the most impressive thing about this movie are the special effects, which really make you believe an ape can be a main character of a movie, and that’s good because this movie is character heavy.  The characters do well arguing with each and employ the angry staredown they learned from Sylvester Stallone, contrasting that with periods of running, shooting, and crying out not to be kicked in the head.  It’s pretty good.  

If this movie doesn’t convince you that Andy Serkis is the perfect character actor, nothing will.  He plays Caesar as a pensive leader, who is far too stressed out living next to a camp of humans, which really makes no sense if the apes you’re with are nuts.  Guess what, one of them turns on him and we get a two hour movie.  A plot dawns on the bad guys to attack the humans, and we get the title of this movie.  Clever?

Although I was expecting a remake of Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973), I got something else.  The villains in this movie are on both sides, which is probably a better way to have a more fleshed out and modern story.  So there’s some apes who hate Caesar, and some humans who really like him, and want to give him presents.  To shake things up, Gary Oldman is there to be a jerk and fire everybody up with his speeches about survival.  He plays the human leader, and he’s one step near to being nuts too, but I guess you could say Oldman gives an understated performance compared to some of his other roles.  I could still see his veins in his forehead during one scene, so that’s good.  Can’t have understated Gary Oldman all the time.  Kirk Acevedo sneaks in there with a supporting role as a jerk too, and he’s awesome.  Some great jerk lines and jerk reactions.  That doesn’t get stale, because he dies or goes camping or something half way through.  Disappointing.

I like the plot of this movie, and it doesn’t move too fast to lose me, plus it doesn’t throw in endless amounts of stupid details that might be unnecessary.  It’s basically a long string of scenes that raise the tension between the apes and the human group, until the special effects are turned up to 11 and everything blows up and the apes attack with some stolen guns.  That’s right folks, somebody went to movie school, because we have a climax.  

Unfortunately, it pays off with a weak finale.  Without too many spoilers, Caesar stands atop some rubble and warns his people that a sequel is coming and they better be prepared.  Like so many movies these days, this here is a franchise folks, so we can’t have a definitive ending.  Oh no, we have to tease the audience and end with a neverending zoom in on Caesar and a swell of music that would make Hans Zimmer proud.  Can’t have everything I guess.

Overall, this is a good movie if you can accept that this is a franchise.  Really, there’s so many more good things that make up for not having an ending.  Right?  Things like good characters, a decent story, awesome special effects, and trees.  Do you need an ending?  Or do you like trees more?  Seriously, I didn’t know there were so many trees around San Francisco.  Maybe I’m confused and it’s Montana.  Anyway, the actors do a great job, especially Andy Serkis and Jason Clarke.  So this time, I’m not disappointed I didn’t get a rerun of Battle for the Planet of the Apes, because this is a more complex, modern movie.  I just have to wait until the next one to get an ending.  Maybe.