Hollywood goes apeshit!
If you were to watch the trailer of the second Planet of the Apes-film, then you would be led to believe that this sequel is a spectacular blockbuster with astonishing action sequences! Unfortunately enough, there is one thing that’s not in the trailer and that is: the truth! The trailer is a cleverly put together spin-of-the-truth that’ll make you believe the movie spends as much time on the apes during the war as it does on mankind. Don’t get your hopes up. Nothing is less true …
As soon as the first ape climbs a tree, you’ll notice that Dawn of the Planet of the Apes spends way more time in the world of the apes than it does in the human world. This is a pity, because such decisions result in a movie with a sudden lack of human interaction. In other words, it becomes that much harder to establish a connection between what appears on the silver screen and the audience watching the movie.
There are literally scenes of +15 minutes where not a single word is spoken. Scenes that include a wildlife park of monkeys communicating through silly sign language, followed by some grunts and snorts. Scenes without humans! Just imagine you watching a bunch of CGI-monkeys who decide whether or not to engage war against mankind, with a script that’s comprised of only beastly sounds and tactile signing. It’s like watching ‘Animal Planet on drugs’!
Pixar’s WALL·E was more than capable of creating lengthy scenes – fantastic and fabulous to watch! – without a single word spoken, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes simply does not succeed in this department!
But of course there are humans in this movie! But they linger on the background. Rarely do we get any character depth in the human world.
Without so much as a decent explanation, we begin the movie in some sort of fortified castle where the last remains of a near-hopeless human race clings onto their survival. How they got there and why humans are on the verge of extinction seems not so important, it appears, as the movie completely neglects to tell this part of the story.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes takes place 10 years after the previous movie. ‘Why so long?’, no one knows. Perhaps it would’ve been better to show the further rise of the apes, trying to establish their place in the world. Instead, we get a super-fast and incoherent montage trying to make up for lost time.
The end of Part I had a couple of apes escaping a laboratory and flee off into the woods. Part II begins with a worldwide spread disease, something called the Simian Flu, originating from the same laboratory. This new piece of information sends the second movie in overdrive. The movie shows how millions of people die every day as a result of this epidemic, thus turning an already fragile relationship between ape and men into an imminent war.
Regardless of what you may think of both Apes-movies, the transition from one movie into the other is not smooth and rather confusing. I bet everyone asked the same question first time around when they saw this movie: ‘How did we get from a few apes escaping a laboratory in part 1 to a full-scale war in part 2?’
Luckily, the special effects are very pleasing to the eye. The realistic way in which these computer-generated apes appear on screen is very well done. One would almost forget that the apes in the movie aren’t the real deal (meaning: they’re not animals acting on stage), but are in fact manufactured by a computer. If there’s one department where this movie deserves full credit, it’s definitely the visual effects.
But once again, what about the humans? Every single human in this movie is a paper-thin, one-dimensional character that enjoys as much character depth as your average zombie in a B-horror movie. Even with top-notch actors like Andy Serkis (completely unrecognizable in his ape-suit) and British method actor Gary Oldman, the movie still does not spark enough interest to turn this movie around. On a narrative level, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is empty and uninspiring.
The big hero of the movie is actor Jason Clarke whose name won’t ring a bell, but perhaps his face will. You can see the actor tries his very best – and he gets special points for that – but his performance leaves much to be desired. Sometimes it appears the actor has forgotten his lines …
Finally there is the story told. As mentioned before, it’s pretty stupid, almost as if it was written by one of the apes in the movie (hahaha!) There’s almost no substance, nothing really to talk about. Lemme give you the main points …
You have a good ape, named Caesar who was raised by James Franco in the first movie. Then there is also a bad ape who was tortured by the very company James Franco worked for. The good ape believes in mankind. The bad one doesn’t. Then the bad ape devises a clever plan to make believe that the humans are definitely looking to kill and destroy all apes, thus giving him enough motive to start building his own army of chimpanzees.
And that right there, ladies & gentlemen, is the beginning of the most boring war ever depicted in the science-fiction genre!
And yes, the action in the movie is quite spectacular sometimes. But – let’s be honest – an ape who drives a tank or a chimpanzee on a horse jumping through an inferno without getting any burns on his body is too much of the good thing, wouldn’t you say?
The biggest problem of the movie is that it doesn’t know how to maintain its own credibility, because the credibility on the screen shrinks with each new passing scene! It all starts beautifully and cute, but as soon as you’re faced with talking monkeys using body language or an ape picking up a weapon for the first time and shooting three people with a gun that never needs to be reloaded – well, you get the point!
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is not a smart chimpanzee like its predecessor – but a big, dumb howler monkey …
did you know?
The fate of Will Rodman (James Franco) after the events of Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) is unknown, but there is a clue. When Caesar returns to his house you can see a sign with an “X” on the stoop by the door. Usually this means someone living there is infected, so it can be assumed he was one of the first to die in the plague.
Give it to me straight:
It’s very true: you should never take a movie like ‘Dawn of the planet of the Apes’ too seriously. And it’s absolutely correct to assume, a movie where apes congregate to start a war on mankind isn’t exactly a subject for scenes with deep human emotions. But where-oh-where did the time go when smart blockbusters were a common thing? With the exception of today’s Marvel superhero-movies, Hollywood seems to struggle to entertain without going bananas.
‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ does NOT succeed – unlike its marvelous predecessor – to build a decent-enough storyline with believable acting performances. This sequel suffers from a weak script that focuses a lot more on the boring sign language between a chimpanzee and an orangutan than the human depth of its main characters, who are embroiled in a war that could very well mean the end of the human race. All this to illustrate that ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ is indeed a 100% monkey-movie!
If you were to count the time when people appear in the spotlight as opposed to the apes, then you’d be disappointed. And with good reason too! The trailer of the movie promises you an exciting story, but what you get instead is a movie bearing the outcome of a psychedelic Animal Planet-episode …