Movie Review
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Dawn...Apes poster
By Scott Sycamore     Published July 17, 2014
US Release: July 11, 2014

Directed by: Matt Reeves
Starring: Gary Oldman , Judy Greer , Keri Russell , Andy Serkis

PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and brief strong language
Running Time: 130 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $208,268,000
For every good turn this movie takes, it seems like thereís a big misstep.
This movie has it all: Apes, apes, and more Gary Oldman. Dark and intense are the name of the game in this bad boy, as its clearly aping such grim blockbuster fare as The Dark Knight, Man of Steel, and Serenity. Iím kidding about Serenity of course Ė that movie sucks, but letís quit bashing a movie from nine years ago and focus on the here and now. There is a movie about apes being projected onto theater screens across the country even as I write this sub-par review. I even saw a news report about two people who brought their chimps to the movie theater to watch the film. The real chimps, amazingly, didnít fling shit at the screen, or piss in their seats Ė at least, that wasnít mentioned in the report, so Iím confident about that.

So youíre asking: Is this movie really good? The answer is: sort of, but not really. It could have used better editing: Several scenes seemed to have been removed or cut down for the sake of running time. The main human characters seemed to pop in and out randomly, giving us a disjointed feeling within the greater picture. The apes are definitely front-and-center in this installment. I mean really, there are a shit-ton of apes in this thing Ė so many, in fact, that it becomes hard to distinguish them from one another at times. They should have given them hats to wear with different colors to tell those suckers apart. Thatís all well and good though, as all of the simians are appropriately ferocious and intimidating. People are very impressed by the motion capture and CG in general, and I canít blame them for that. The human characters couldíve used a lot more development, even though we are quite aware that they probably wonít survive much beyond the events of the film.

So Iím kind of on the fence with this one. It gives you a lot of vague feelings with which you canít quite swing in one direction or the other, no pun intended. For every good turn this movie takes, it seems like thereís a big misstep. For every scene of good acting by a computer-generated ape (with mo-cap), thereís a scene of wooden acting by a real life human; one that doesnít draw us into their character any deeper. Thereís a lot of ďmoney-left-on-the-tableĒ in this flick; scenes where they could have tweaked things just a bit and made it just that much better. More judicious editing and less melodrama could have shot this flick up to where it needed to be. Not every blockbuster and/or comic book-ish movie needs to have Christopher Nolan-like levels of bloated-ness and an over-serious tone. As Caesar and the apes of this movie know, sometimes when you change the game, you end up destroying it.
Scott's Grade: C+
Scott's Overall Grading: 417 graded movies
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