Skip to main content

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

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is the summer movie we deserve. It's well-written, well-acted, features spectacular digital effects, and has a soundtrack that hints, rather than manipulates. It's a sequel that's superior to the first film, 2011's Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

Dawn continues the saga of Caesar (Andy Serkis), a chimp with vastly superior intelligence who has gathered other primates around him after their dramatic escape from San Francisco. The undisputed alpha, Caesar's leadership is put to the test as humans stumble into their forest home. Led by engineer-type Malcolm (Jason Clarke), the small group seeks to reactivate a nearby dam so they can power their headquarters and hopefully connect with other survivors of the virus unleashed during the end of the first movie.

Caesar allows the humans to return to San Francisco to their leader, Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) whose initial instinct is containment. Back in the forest, Caesar's right hand, Koba (Toby Kebbell), agitates for action. Caesar's decision leads to intimidating visuals, and for the rest of the movie, he continues to demonstrate excellent executive ability until [SPOILERS REDACTED].

Dawn's main lesson is one that resonates because it's so true: in every group, there's always that one asshole who ruins it for everyone. When tensions are high and territories and ways of life are on the line, the cooler heads often don't prevail. That leads to the second lesson, declared by Caesar's son: people follow because of fear. As political commentary, this sci-fi flick nails it. Bonus: primatologist Prof. Frans de Waal says the film is true-to-life in many aspects (read full BBC article).

There are a ton of standout scenes in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: apes on horseback, the epic man versus ape battle, smaller fights to establish dominance, apes hunting in formation, and so on. I would say Caesar's face is its own standout--it's very expressive, and the character's wisdom, compassion, and strength shine through, thanks to Serkis and the teams at Weta Digital. Caesar is basically ape Jesus.

TL; DR: Best action/sci-fi film this year so far.

This post brought to you by the American Heart Association's CPR/AED class. I'm certified!

Popular posts from this blog

Paint Nite!

Last night I joined the "Oops" Paint Nite event hosted by the Club Cafe in Back Bay. About 12+ people came to relax and have two artists guide them through painting this original work:

The point was not to slavishly duplicate "Oops" -- we were instructed to make it our own, to relax, and not to utter the words, "Mine sucks," "Can you do this for me?" or "I thought this was paint-by-numbers!"

Speaking of dashed hopes, I had assumed that wine was included. I had done something like this before, only it was in the morning and we all got mimosas. Not so here! While the artists were setting up, I schlepped over to the bar and was rewarded with a generous pour of Cabernet. Now I was ready.

The setup: Everyone got a 16" x 20" canvas, three paint brushes, and a palette (a paper plate) with red, yellow, blue, and white paint. One artist (Brian) had the microphone and would paint with us, while the other was the assistant (Kory) who wo…

An International Women's Day Miracle!

Truly, International Women's Day is a special day. No, not because multitudes are out there rallying for our rights and giving voice to the powerless. It is because I won a gift card from a company raffle!

Let me explain why this counts as a minor miracle. You see, I never win anything. I answer every damned survey sent my way, participate in all the raffles, buy lottery tickets -- to no avail. This particular raffle occurred monthly, and I had been faithfully entering my name every month for two years, with no results. Finally, last month, I declared: "No more!" and unsubscribed from the mailing list -- but not before entering one final time, because why not.


There's also some déjà vu at play here. You see, four years ago, I won a gift card from a company raffle. The one fracking time I won anything! I was elated! Shortly thereafter, also on International Women's Day, I was laid off from my job.

Sooooo...since the day's almost over, I guess I'm not…

Get Out (2017)

Get Out has a charismatic lead, a terrific soundtrack, and damn good cinematography. While it’s described as horror/comedy, it’s more disturbing/cringe-y than scary, and I mean that in a good way. This is an entertaining movie that’s also pretty effective as social commentary.

The film stars Daniel Kaluuya as Chris, a photographer who’s about to spend the weekend at his girlfriend Rose’s (Allison Williams) parent’s house. Naturally, it’s in a secluded spot in the woods. When they get there, the awkwardness that might be expected from a first-time meeting gives way to a series of bizarre behaviors and interactions. While Chris initially takes it all in stride, it eventually becomes clear that there’s something sinister going on behind the scenes.

The acting and dialogue are highlights of the film, as is the camera work. In particular, Kaluuya’s eyebrows and head tilts are so expressive that the audience knows what’s going on in his head even as he politely brushes off eccentricities. A…