Now Playing Review

New Apes potent but preachy

lars logoYEP YEP – Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is undeniably impressive on several levels.

The post “simian virus” world this film takes place in is bleak and desperate….and totally convincing.

The stakes are high and the conflicts are well-examined with just enough back story to bring along folks who may have missed the last James Franco installment.

The apes? Forget about it. Man, have the special fx and CGI capabilities come a long way. These apes move seamlessly throughout this picture, never once giving the audience a chance to scoff or detach from their emotions and intentions.

The acting? Not bad. A lot of mouths agape and bewilderment, but that’s what you get when apes start speaking. Lead actor Jason Clarke does his best to enlist us in his effort of getting everyone on the same page, but he is consistently upstaged by Andy Serkis and the special fx team. Pretty much what you sign on for with these films – unless you’re Charlton Heston, an actor who refused to ever be upstaged. That guy knew how to steal focus!

plaent of the apesMy criticism, then, only lies in the writing, which from the opening of the film to the close, can’t resist making endless social commentaries on human behavior, societal pitfalls, and ultimately whether or not mankind is doomed because we are just too hellbent on violence and self-destruction.

Because – get your pencils please – guns are bad. Really bad!

When your entire premise is a metaphor one would think that going heavy-handed thematically would be resisted at every turn. But not here. Virtually every scene is laced with an exchange regarding man’s nature versus that of the animal kingdom. Kind of wears you down after a while.

Nonetheless, my boys and I enjoyed it.

But please don’t tell me these new Planet of the Apes come anywhere close to the originals. It didn’t take mind boggling state of the art special fx to make you wonder what was chasing those raggedy humanoids through the corn fields. Or how the Statue of Liberty could possibly be on that beach! Those were cinematic moments I will never forget.

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