Best Quote from Audience Member:
"So ... they take over, right? The apes?"
We pick up ten years after James Franco and the virus. Caesar has a mate and two sons. The eldest son, Blue Eyes, is a sensitive little chimp who wants to do right by his dad. Unfortunately, he starts to feel like his dad is not doing right by him.
Because enter the humans! Malcolm heads up his son and partner in a small expedition to go to the dam on the other side of the ape encampment and start up power for the Gary Oldman-led tribe of virus-resistant humans hanging out at the train station village in San Francisco. Caesar wants to help, even to the detriment and safety of his family and home. Koba, on the other hand, has other plans.
This movie is as ridiculous as that poster. The ape rides the horse, holding a gun as the Golden Gate Bridge burns in the background. They just tried so hard, guys. So very hard.
The difficult thing about writing spec fic or science fiction, is that you as a writer are writing an outlandish thing happening in the very real world. Crafted science fiction allows you to suspend belief and follow the story like it all happened and it's all as plausible as George Washington and World War II (although ... not George Washington in World War II, because that would be spec fic). However, there were so many times that I felt the world was shoved at us or stretched to look cool for posters (see above), and I was taken out of the movie in those moments.
There was also a challenge in starting the movie ten years after the end of the last movie. Info dumping was abound as the writers tried to fill in the holes. There were whole scenes dedicated to info dumping, where the humans sat in the car and did everything but stare right at the camera as they threw out world-building factoids, like how the woman worked for the CDC, or how the virus worked, or how long they had been without power.
One thing they did do well was Caesar's character arch. But I don't know how much of that was the writing, and how much of that was Andy Serkis being awesome.
Not much here, gals. It does not pass the Bechdel test. We have two mother characters, one ape and one human, but even they don't have much overlay. One spends her time being sick and the other one spends her time taking care of her adopted son and partner. It was an ape versus white man story, and it stuck to the franchise's tradition of not having much to do with anyone else.
As for POCs, we have one dominant black character in the whole ordeal. I just kept looking at Malcolm, who was white, and thinking how cool it would have been if he had not been white. Instead, we get one black man in the entire group of dam-seekers whose main line was, "You shut up before I kick your ass."
I don't think the rest of this series will change much in this regard.
If you like apes riding horses and shooting off never-empty guns at Gary Oldman, then this is the show for you! I would also recommend it to visual arts students, because holy lord those apes are cool looking.
THE MOVIE ITSELF: I appreciate its visual effects. If everything else failed in this story, the visual effects soared above anything you've ever seen. Caesar is gorgeously done and more human than most of the human actors. Koba moves so fluidly. Blue Eyes told a coming-of-age story through full computerized effects. It was just beautiful. Other than that, I give it one of Koba's raspberries. B-
ENJOYMENT FACTOR: I'm glad I saw it, but it was just too damn long with too little to it. We all know how this is going to end, and there are no surprises. The apes will come out victorious, the humans will slink into slavery, and Caesar will die as his teachings are corrupted by Tim Roth. We know. We get it. Apes. C
VERDICT: If you like the series, go for it. Otherwise, maybe go see it as a matinee when you're really bored on a "sick day." C+
DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
I like movies.
I see a lot of them.