It’s a funny thing that three years ago everyone thought the new Planet of the Apes movie, released at the tail end of summer as if to indicate the producers’ lack of assurance about its prospects, was going to suck. The original series, excepting perhaps the original feature, was never very good and is best left to the dustbins of history. Flash-forward to 2014 and it’s now fairly set as a new tent-pole franchise worthy of not only populist blockbuster status but the time and money of discerning film-goers looking for craft and character to go with their explosions. Rise turned out to be better than good and an unexpected year surprise, a rare thing in big budget filmmaking these days. Dawn faces bigger expectations coming into its release, the kind which could sink a would-be summer blockbuster. Thankfully, the film is too confident to fail, boasting a simple, elegant, if familiar, story that’s done up well with pure filmmaking prowess and solid, dependable characters. It’s hard to say which of the two films is superior, but then again we don’t need to. Both are sufficiently different (they really went out on a limb setting this film ten years later than the first and with not one returning human character) and they each work in their own way. This isn’t a game-changing film, but it’s very strong and a surprisingly sturdy second entry to a franchise everyone was surprised to realize they’d missed. Continue reading
In light of the need for the fledgling days of this new blog to pack in content that isn’t just new releases or me just posting reviews of older films randomly, I’m helping it through its growing pains by using the release of the new summer blockbuster Dawn of the Planet of the Apes as an excuse for posting my recently-dug-out review of its excellent predecessor, Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Enjoy.
Planet of the Apes is a franchise more notable for historical significance than quality. The first film, though solid entertainment, is not the classic it is often recalled as. Certainly, it’s an important film, and it is decent in most regards, with some standout moments in a few high tension chases and a shocking, bleak, and dramatically effective conclusion. However, much of its allegory is obvious and fairly trite, and the story really doesn’t have much else to offer. As for the other films in the original series (I haven’t seen any), their reputation is less than stellar (although Escape, the second sequel, has its share of defenders). The much-maligned 2001 Tim Burton version of the story is nothing special either, although in my opinion the hate directed toward it is undeserved. It’s a standard B-movie with some of the charm associated with the type. Unfortunately, it went off the rails into nonsensical territory during the climax, and it featured one of the silliest, most illogical concluding plot twists in recent memory. Ten years after that film, and over 40 since the original, can Rise of the Planet of the Apes, a new take on the point that kick-started the decimation of the human population and the titular rise of the apes, restore this franchise to the heights of the original film? Continue reading