OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
SYNOPSIS: A growing nation of genetically evolved apes led by Caesar is threatened by a band of human survivors of the devastating virus unleashed a decade earlier. They reach a fragile peace, but it proves short-lived, as both sides are brought to the brink of a war that will determine who will emerge as Earth’s dominant species.
REVIEW: Directed by Matt Reeves (Cloverfield, 2008) and includes the likes of Andy Serkis (The Lord of the Rings film trilogy), Jason Clarke (White House Down, 2013), Gary Oldman (RoboCop, 2014) and Keri Russell (Dark Skies, 2013). A growing nation of genetically evolved apes led by Caesar (the young ape you might remember from 2011’s reboot of the franchise) is back in full swing.
Now, being a longtime fan of the original releases of “Planet of the Apes,” I was a bit apprehensive after viewing the 2011 reboot. Partially because in this era of big budget cinematic spectacles, story and character often take a back seat to bombastic special effects and media hype. However, when all of those elements sorta come together in this latest release, we end up with something that isn’t quite quality escapism. Instead, it is more like another obvious cheap trick to get audiences out to the theaters, instead of something with material that is substantial. It does, however, speak to the human condition and it might seem odd to mention ‘human condition’ in this review, but it is perfectly appropriate for the story which now takes place ten years after the events in the previous franchise reboot “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.”
Nevertheless, this is primarily a visual experience, and on one hand it is spectacular in concept, but on the other hand it lacks sophistication in the storytelling. The pros include the forest settings, post-apocalyptic San Francisco scenes and the environment being rendered rich in detail. The action sequences are somewhat thrilling without being flashy and over the top, and the apes themselves are uncannily expressive, particularly in their eyes and facial features. Just the species divide is blurred, so the line between what's real and computer generated is undetectable, in my opinion. I think we've arrived at the stage where the soulful expression on the face of a virtual chimp can conjure more sympathy than a real, emoting human being. Perhaps that's what producers were aiming for here because that’s about all that is great about this flick. Everything else really suffers including audiences whom are subjected to two hours of long drawn out scenes of chimps communicating via a mixture of sign-language and sporadic audial expressions with subtitles to follow. It literally feels as though one would want the film to end prematurely because the real action doesn’t take place until the last fifteen minutes of the runtime.
Overall, I’d be insincere if I said that I thoroughly enjoyed this flick. It certainly spent too much time on character development and not enough time on simple entertainment. It is as though they are already planning the follow up sequel and used this release as a build up to what’s to come. Nothing spectacular takes place here in this story and I feel that it would be a waste of time and money for the theater visit. Dvd or pay-per-view would suffice here. Two and a half out of five stars would be the best rating this latest effort should receive.
By Movi-Man Stan
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