If this kind of thrilling but ridiculous image of an ape on horseback with machine guns attacking a load of hu-mans is not your thing I reckon that DOTPOTA or Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes as some pedantic folk like to call it might not be to your liking because a few pulpy thrills aside, I found it to be quite the slog; overlong, repetitive, unnecessary saying what has been said before in seven previous Apes movies but in a slightly different, more advanced ooh! ahh! LIPSMACKINGLY impressive sfx manner I guess. Until next week…
More mindbending than the premise that Apes will eventually usurp us complacent and cowardly lot is that a lucrative decades old Hollywood franchise modest source inspiration was a Swiftian science fiction novel concocted by French writer Pierre Boulle back in 1963, its original title a la Francais ‘La Planete des Singes’.
But then it’s not as if Hollywood retained a great fidelity to Boulle’s novel with the first, seminal Planet of The Apes back in 1968, taking the story’s basic world turned upside down premise, adding a famous twist ending, focusing more on Charlton Hestons indignant jaw line, John Chambers groundbreaking ape make up and a scantily clad primitive female as far as I remember; a somewhat thoughtful, occasionally trippy sci-fi humanities lesson.
The strong idea at the core of Boulle’s book still seems to capture the popular imagination but perhaps that is more down to 20th Century Fox’s sly manipulation of our pop culture nostalgia as well as a slick hype machine at their disposal to fuel our shallow desire for new sensation and spectacle and not servicing a neglected void in our collective unconscious.
Rise of The Planet of the Apes from 2011, a manufactured prequel to the original film series did not need to exist and yet it managed to transcend its apparent redundancy with some conviction which is not to say Dawn of The Planet of The Apes lacks conviction from any of the people involved; everyone gives their all but in the service of too many action and horror clichés, a continuing sympathy towards the Simian point of view which makes the human characters seem even more anemic. They are either noble and dull in the form of Gary Oldman and Jason Clarke or idiotic and hateful in the form of Kirk Acvedo and two particularly stupid assholes with machine guns who seem to have wandered in from a bad George A Romero flick.
Speaking of Romero, the human compound in which the last survivors dwell seems borrowed from apocalypse movies of recent and those more vintage, particularly Romero’s Dead series and of course The Walking Dead. It’s an over familiar setting these days in genre cinema and here even with a large budget, director Matt Reeves fails to do anything interesting with it visually and for all intents and purposes like much of everything else it seems to be there to get shot up and blown up in many many ways rather than provide a compelling backdrop.
Anyway, that’s enough about DOTPOTA I think…Oh wait, yes, like many recent blockbusters this film is way too fucking long, at least 30-40 minutes too long. It’s a film about talking apes fighting hu-mans not Shakespeare, Tolstoy or feckin Strindberg for crying out loud. I also kept thinking throughout, when are the apes gonna start donning some threads? They are quite naked in this but their privates are well hidden by the komputerz.