Let's get right to the point: The “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” review is being delayed until Friday, due to unforeseen circumstances that I'd rather not get into. It's the last thing I want to tell my fledgling audience, but sometimes, life intervenes, and you can't always help it. See you Friday! 😕
Yeah, I hinted to you in that clue last time that I was reviewing a “Planet of the Apes” movie. I may or may not get to the original series at some point, but I’m gonna focus on the rebooted series for now. (On a mostly unrelated note, I’m actually writing the reviews for this movie and its direct successor on Monday, even though the predecessor’s review will come out on Monday, and the successor’s on Tuesday. Why? I figure one a day is enough for my readers. Oh, and for certain movies, I’ll be posting a score about what the movie means to me on top of the more “objective” score I have for the movie from now on. Not for all movies, just a couple, like “King Kong.”)
Anyway, this is the first movie in the umbrella “Planet of the Apes” franchise I ever saw, as I was raised by a father who didn’t care for the original movie as much as many people do. So, what did we think of this movie? Let’s find out…
If there’s one positive thing I can say about the story here, it’s that it’s miles better than the stories written by James Cameron himself (the effects were done by his company). (I generally like his movies quite a lot, but the stories are easily the weakest aspect of them.) Also, the story knows a lot about how to build up what happens at the end and delivering on what it promises at the end. With that said, though, the story isn’t perfect; it has some rather glaring plot holes that, to the movie’s credit, would probably take many viewings to spot, but once you do spot them, they’ll stand out like signposts. However, none of the aforementioned plot holes are ruinous to the overall product, and the story is rather refreshingly original. The first time I saw it in the theater, I genuinely had no idea where the story was going to go. (Well, I knew the general direction the story was likely to go, but even that was subject to quite a lot of surprises.)
I do have a lot more to say than that, but I think I’ll save that for later; for now, I’ll just say, it’s very solid, and surprisingly thoughtful to boot.
Story Grade: 88% (B+)
Caesar and Will share a genuine friendship that is helped tremendously by the restrained pace of the story, which allows you to really care about what happens in the story even before the climactic action scene. Caroline is rather bland (apologies to Frieda Pinto, but it’s true), but Charles (Will’s father) definitely isn’t. Caesar is quite interesting himself, and his body language is outstanding. The other apes (Maurice the orangutan especially) are also quite interesting. And I’ll shut up and give this area a grade now.
Characterization Grade: 95% (A)
It’s… well-written, but it’s rather basic, so there’s not a whole lot to say.
Script Grade: 90% (A-)
This is one of the few areas that isn’t so strong. The actual execution of the non-dialogue aspects of the scenes is excellent. The actors, however, suffer a little, often giving monotone deliveries where they’re decidedly not welcome (like a scene where they’re supposed to be happy or just neutral). With that said, though, it’s not… awful, so…
Direction Grade: 78% (C+)
As I said, the actors aren’t given a whole lot of favors (except for John Lithgow), but the body language on the part of the apes is, as I said before, outstanding. Andy Serkis (Caesar) is often considered the “Master of Motion Capture” for a reason.
Acting Grade: 82% (B-)
The final action scene is really large-scale and packed with surprises, to boot. The way that they did it all the way they did is really impressive to me, and, as I said earlier, the fact that you care about what’s happening is a huge bonus.
Action Grade: 100% (A+)
You might be wondering why I haven’t talked about the motion capture yet, and the reason is that it’s all in the execution. I will say that it’s done with the best care possible. What more do you want me to say?
Execution Grade: 95% (A)
When I saw the movie in the theater, I thought it was close to amazing, and though it’s since lost a bit of luster, nothing has diminished its overall impact much. My father even said that it was better than the original movie. Yeah, so what’s my grade?
Final Grade: 85% (B)
Tomorrow will see the publication of my review of “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” and the next day will see the publication of my review of “War for the Planet of the Apes.” After that, I’ll move on to something else. What is it? You’ll have to see. Bye!
Well, I didn’t exactly strike while the iron was hot, but I did strike when it was warm-ish. Anyway, the last month or so has been crazy, as I recently moved, but I’m back, hopefully to stay. And don’t worry too much about those reviews of “Dr. No” or “Wonder Woman.” I’ll get to one of them soon. Which one? You’ll have to wait and see.
Okay, enough beating around the bush. So, you might be wondering why I’m reviewing this movie. Well, it’s rather simple; over the past few months, I’ve developed an interest in kaiju movies. What’s that, you may ask? Short answer: A movie with a giant monster, sometimes of determinate species, sometimes not, going around destroying things and, often, battling another monster of similar scientific grouping. (Some may argue that a person in a suit playing both monsters is an intrinsic part of the deal, but I’m not personally one of them.) And what better way to start then with going back to the genre’s origin? Yeah, without “King Kong,” we wouldn’t have giant monster movies being made today or in the 1950s. So, did this movie do anything for me, specifically? Let’s find out.
The story, truthfully, is a bit sparse. Well, okay, it takes its sweet time building up the eventual conflict involving Kong and the island natives, but there’s just a lot of very efficiently-presented nothing happening during most of it. Maybe I’m being a bit harsh in context, as this movie was made at a time where just having a movie with talking and a fully-orchestrated score running through it all was a novelty, let alone such a movie with so many new techniques at providing the illusion that they were seeing something that didn’t exist. But, quite frankly, the first forty-five minutes or so were a bit of a chore for me to get through. It doesn’t exactly help that it wasn’t until that point that I found a character I liked. But I’ll get to that later.
The point is, that part wasn’t interesting to me, but at around forty-five minutes in, which was about the point that Ann was captured by the natives, the movie grabbed me, and wouldn’t let me leave my seat until it was over. This part of the movie was everything the first forty-five minutes should’ve been and more. On top of that, it has what I’m terming “it.” You know, that unexplainable quality of a movie where it takes hold of you, holds you under its spell, and makes you praise it to hell and back once it’s over. The story was just as sparse as it was in the earlier stretches of the movie, but the movie itself was much more interesting, much better paced, much more well-presented and overall, just better in general. It was here that I saw what made everyone praise it to high heavens now and forever. Does this make the other parts “okay?” I don’t know, but this area still ends up succeeding wildly, despite those parts. There’s not a whole lot to say about the story itself, except that it’s presented flawlessly starting at the forty-five-minute mark.
Story Grade: 90% (A-)
Jack was really the only character who did a whole lot for me, and even at that, it took longer for him to become likable than it should’ve. The rest of the cast is made up of greedy chauvinists and a chauvinist’s fantasy woman (Ann). The reason Jack endeared himself to me is because he eventually showed that he had more layers to him than the typical male character in the movie.
Now look, I’m not gonna criticize the movie too much for that, since it was made at a different time, and those problems were intrinsic to that era of American history, but since I find characters I identify with an important part of any movie, especially one that takes itself as seriously as this one, I’ll say that this area is rather bland, except for Jack. (Kong himself is a lot more interesting than the human characters, though, so there’s that.) However, credit where credit is due, the movie does acknowledge Denham’s greed, and calls him on it towards the end. For that reason, I’m going to give this area a…
Characterization Grade: 80% (B-)
Passable, but there’s not much more to say than that.
Script Grade: 85%
The direction of the segments after the island natives kidnap Ann are directed perfectly. The direction on the other scenes is… okay, I guess?
Direction Grade: 82% (B-)
This is one area where the human characters do shine. It only partly makes up for the blandness of their characterization, but the movie is almost perfectly casted, and for that, I salute it.
Acting Grade: 95% (A)
Couldn’t be happier with this area. The foreboding score makes it more dramatic than it needs to be, IMO, but it is legitimately entertaining.
Action Grade: 100% (A+)
I think I’ve said my piece on that, truthfully.
Execution Grade: 90% (A-)
I really wish that I didn’t have so many bad things to say about this movie, as I really like it a lot more than I, by rights, should. But I can’t bring myself to say that, despite its technical mastery, that it’s not dated and not chauvinistic. It decidedly is those things, but those things are more easily forgiven by me than I ever could objectively describe.
Anyway, that’s enough from me. Calculate My Grade, what’s my score?
Final Grade: 81% (B-)
If I was rating it based on how I personally feel, it’d receive a 90%. Not kidding, it’s really that good in my eyes. But looking at it objectively, there’s too much bringing it down to grade it any higher than 81%.
Well, that was uncomfortable. And I really am dreading the flood of negative comments coming my way from my sterling fan base, but you know what? I stand by what I said, because that what an opinion entails. Just know that this review is about it as a film, not a marker in film history; if I’d done it that way, it would’ve gotten a 100%. Anyway, I will get to the Peter Jackson movie from 2005 soon, as well as the other movies and Godzilla, but next time, I’m gonna lighten the load with a movie I greatly respect and truly like all the way. What is it? It’s part of a movie series whose opening entry has a twist ending. See you then! (Or not. It’s up to you.)