Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes


Once more Andy Serkis delivers a stellar performance while wearing a motion capture suit. My goodness, haven’t we come a long, long way from the days of Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, and Maurice Evans in barely mobile rubber masks? These apes achieve total realism. If you didn’t know how it was done you would be convinced that they were actually there, on the set, and there were dozens and dozens of real actors and hundreds and thousands of CGI extras. In addition, there was a CGI bear, and many horses. These days you can make a horse take fatal falls and not have the ASPCA down on you. It was all digital. No pixels were harmed in the making of this film.

This is basically a cowboys and Indians story. Or Indians and settlers, actually. The humans holed up in the ruins of the Embarcadero BART station in San Francisco are like the sodbusters who invaded the West and came into conflict with the native tribes who lived there. These apes build shelters and use fire, but they hunt with spears. The humans have all the guns, but when they need to, the apes are good with guns, too. Many of the humans are afraid of the apes, and many of them view them as just animals. And it goes both ways. Caesar, the ape leader from the previous movie, is an ape of peace, and he tried to work things out, but it’s all to no avail. In the end, war is inevitable. Depressing.

A sequel has been announced. Well, duh. This one made close to a billion dollars, so it’s no surprise. And since I recall that when Charlton Heston lands on Earth many years from now and finds humans extinct, you can sort of see where the ape vs. human war is going to go. I doubt I’ll want to see that movie. Love the apes, but I’m human enough to not want to see the last of us wiped out, even if we richly deserve it.