Friday, January 23, 2015


Visual Effects - Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett, Erik Winquist

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is the next installment of the reimagined prequel to the Planet of the Apes.  In this film, the simian flu has wiped out much of the human race while the apes have become more and more advanced.  While scientists are trying to restore electricity to the human population, they discover that their needed resources are located among the apes, who are unaware that any humans still exist until the moment of their encounter.  There are agitators for war and advocates for peace on both sides of the conflict, and we see how fear breeds the thirst for fighting - both sides believing they are acting for self preservation.

Now, the effects may not be obvious at first, but apparently, there is no such thing as an ape who talks.  Lead ape Andy Sirkus' performance is completely done by motion capture, which is a big effects accomplishment.  Add in a healthy dose of explosions and the typical action movie sequences, and there you have an Oscar nominee for visual effects.  However, the Oscar for this category generally goes to a movie that has spectacular effects that add themselves to a really great story, and I'm not sure this one is strong enough to compete with some of its other nominees for this award.

I enjoyed Dawn of the Planet of the Apes when I saw it this summer.  It was a fun way to pass a couple of hours and the popcorn was delicious.  This visual effects film does harken back to the original Planet of the Apes which was culturally and politically nuanced, and asks us (in a more simplistic way than the original) to examine how we interact with cultures different than ours. Ironically, for a film that is supposed to represent post-apocalyptic San Fransisco, there are a huge number of white faces in the crowd scenes, and we certainly know that city to be much more culturally diverse than what is represented. 

Bottom line - if you're looking for a good bubblegum movie with lots of action and pretty good performances, this one is certainly ape-ropriate.

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