Wednesday, July 30, 2014

On the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Okay, so I'm rushing headlong into a major minority opinion. Upon viewing this movie I responded with a resounding, 'Meh.' I was seriously confused as to why the movie received the praise it did. The characters were fine if nothing special, the dilemmas were fine if nothing special, the story was fine ... if nothing special. Outside of the visual effects, I failed to be wowed by the spectacle that was this movie. My main complaint, and I'll get it out of the way here, is that there wasn't a single moment in this film that truly surprised me. If anything, most of Marvel's movies have had more shocking twists in them. This movie struck me as very paint-by-numbers storytelling. 

But, I'll give it this much, instead of feeling that the entirety of the human population that saw this movie is mentally incapable, I am starting to feel like I missed something, like that guy who was grabbing the last Ho-Ho and missed the punchline. Everyone else is laughing, and sure I've got a Ho-Ho, but I'd really like to know what the joke was. So before I unleash the venomous barbs fully, I would like to see the movie again. But it's Wednesday and I need to post a review!

Most Idiotic Review

"There's evident patience and intelligence to the filmmaking all over, as well as an engagement with genuine ideas about diplomacy, deterrence, law and leadership. However often it risks monkey-mad silliness, it's impressively un-stupid." Tim Robey (The Telegraph)

I might take flak for this, but I'm going to say it anyways, 'un-stupid,' is a f*cking stupid way to describe something. In the English language there are so many antonyms to stupid and so many synonyms for intelligent, I'm a little flabbergasted at what I just read. While I think the direction and visual style of the film is really intelligent and patient, and provides some real interesting stuff to watch ... 'genuine ideas about diplomacy' was not the phrase that came to my mind. The reason for this? I'll let the Most Accurate Review do my talking ...

Most Accurate Review

"... the film’s other main flaw is lacking character development. The bad guys are absent of definition, coming across as bitter, violent and a great contrast to the more morally liberal protagonists. Sadly, Gary Oldman’s character is particularly damned by this disparity, which I felt was a great shame."  Henry Stanley (impactnottingham)

Here's my problem. Imagine you have a great story with really engaging protagonists and some real thought provoking theme and a visually interesting tone. Now make all your antagonists cardboard cutouts. You just blew a tire on the freeway at eighty mile-per-hour.

What I Say

Plot — The plot of this film didn't engage me, not because it was bad, it was just predictable. At first I thought things were playing out intelligently, but without the existence of bigoted psychopathic antagonists and naive overly trusting protagonists, this movie's plot wouldn't have worked. That's my main gripe, and yes I'm going to keep harping on it. I walked into the movie expecting the Planet of the Apes to ... y'know, Dawn. I have seen every other movie in this franchise, so it's not hard to figure how it was going to end, after all. I was hoping that the getting there would have been a bit more thoughtful, but I really am hard pressed to believe it was. 

Characters — So we have Not-James Franco, Gary Oldman playing the same angry character that John Malkovich played in Warm Bodies, Andy Serkis doing another smashing performance as a CGI character, and Kobo the Asshole Monkey. The good guys are good and thoughtful, while Koba and Dreyfus are jarringly. The one thought that really bothered me was that right from the beginning of the movie I thought to myself, "Ah, look, the asshole character(s) who will f*ck everything up." And unfortunately, the movie never proved me wrong.

Spectacle — Since it's always the elephant in the room for me, yes, the movie looks fan-f*cking-tastic. I mean holy hell, does the CGI looks good. I can't deny it, I won't even try. I was really impressed. The apes oftentimes emoted more successfully than their human counterparts, and the decision to keep the apes from talking for the majority of the movie, communicating in only sign language was a really nice tough in my opinion, since I think it let us connect with the apes more as characters than CGI creations. Some really topnotch work. 

So there's my quick rundown on the film. I do plan on seeing it again though, and maybe reevaluating or simply reaffirming my opinions stated here. 

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