Thursday, July 10, 2014

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

After all the lamentable movies released at cineplexes this summer, it appears that one coming out tomorrow might be worth a watch.

It is of course Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the sequel to the 2011 prequel to the original 1969 movie.  (A third in the prequel series already has been ordered.)

At the end of the 2011 movie, a human scientist had unintentionally released a virus that killed him and most of the rest of mankind.

This movie picks up from there.  The tiny smattering of remaining humans are living a miserable existence in what's left of San Francisco while Caesar and his evolved apes are doing well in the forests of Marin County.

(There may be some coded comment here about the two locations as we understand them today, but I'm not going there.)

Anyway the humans, hungry for electricity, want to revive a hydroelectric dam in the apes' domain, and matters proceed from there.

Critics actually like this movie, citing fine computer-generated effects, including emotions on the apes' faces, and an actual plot that sets up character motivations and accounts for why the characters act as they do.

Marjorie Baumgartner, in a review for the Austin Chronicle, said "The narrative and its attendant lessons about how one rotten ape and/or human can spoil the bunch are engaging, although I found myself drifting during the battle sequences."

My guess is this reflects a basic difference between women's and men's cinematic preferences.

Representing the guy side, I offer this bit from Tom Huddleston of Time Out London: "It may lack its predecessor's ambitions, but once the bullets, spears and hairy fists start flying, you'll be too wrapped up to care."

See what I mean?

Stephanie Zacharek of the Village Voice seems to splits the difference, saying, "But at least Dawn has the distinction of being a summer movie that respects its audience instead of just pummeling it into submission."

In short -- way better than the average big-budget summer flick.


Several critics have mentioned approvingly the inclusion of "The Weight," a song recorded in 1969 by a band called The Band, as an old gas station recovers electrical power.  I had to go on Youtube to find the music.  It's not blindingly obvious to me why this would work, but apparently it does.

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