Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: Lingering questions

I don't believe that a horse could actually support Maurice's weight. (Fox)

Poor horsey went from being dominated by one primate to another. (Fox)

Tonight, after spending six hours at a BBQ place, I went to go pay $19.50 to watch my most anticipated movie of 2014: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. (I’ve been dreaming of this day since seeing Rise of the Planet of the Apes with my cousin at the way-too-quaint Marquis Theatre in Middlebury, Vermont, three years ago.) I suppose I could have saved five bucks by waiting 45 minutes for a non-RPX screening, but I have lost all ability to kill time.

(By the way, If you’re interested in hearing me wax poetic about the glorious Labor Day weekend in 1998 when AMC was marathoning all five original Planet of the Apes films [including the Roddy McDowell–hosted documentary Behind the Planet of the Apes], JUST ASK.)

Meanwhile, here are some lingering questions I have from Dawn of the Planet of the Apes…

1. What is up with the movie poster?

There are multiple things wrong with this movie poster. (Fox)

There are multiple things wrong with this movie poster. (Fox)

Okay, so I guess you can’t see his face, but that’s Caesar on the horse, right? Andy Serkis has top billing, and this particular chimp is leading everyone. So it has to be Caesar. But Caesar is vehemently ANTI-GUN. This whole movie is basically a (very convincing) PSA for why guns are evil. (Unlike Captain Phillips, which momentarily convinced me that I needed to apply for a permit, stat.) Caesar would never pack heat, let alone against humans.

Also, the Bay Bridge is never featured in Dawn. Nope, not once. Maybe after Rise, the studio was like, “Quick, we need a movie poster for the sequel! They already destroyed the Golden Gate Bridge so, uh, let’s get that other one!”

Basically, this poster makes no sense.

2. Why is Blue Eyes a better developed role than Ellie?



I actually had to look up Keri Russell’s character’s name just now because I think it was said only once despite the fact that she had a pretty decent amount of screen time.

In these scenes, Keri Russell got to utter gems like, “I’m worried,” “You need to eat,” and “I don’t know.” On the other hand, Caesar’s first son, Blue Eyes, at least was able to philosophize, “Fear makes others follow.” Yeah it does! That was a useful bit of dialogue! Thanks, Blue Eyes! Too bad the scriptwriters couldn’t find anything useful for Ellie to say. (And FYI: Judy Greer mo-caps as Cornelia, Caesar’s lady, not that you could tell.)

Then again, maybe I’m being speciesist by expecting more from Ellie just because she’s a human. The whole point of this movie is that WE’RE MORE ALIKE THAN WE THINK.

3. Why is Koba such a jerk?

Koba, which was apparently also an alias used by Stalin, is bad news. (Fox)

Koba, which was apparently also an alias used by Stalin, is bad news. (Fox)

Because humans treated him like a literal lab monkey. Oh, right. But he was mean to Caesar and tried to kill him. Not cool. And honestly, ever since Rise of the Planet of the Apes, I knew Koba was bad news! I feel justified.

But the humans, besides Malcolm and his family, aren’t the good guys here. Gary Oldman is an ape-hating douche (though I guess we’re supposed to sympathize with the obvious death of his genetically inferior sons), and obviously comes off worse post–Playboy comments. And Carver and those two gun-loving alcoholics aren’t any better.

Speaking of which, how did apes and humans manage to avoid each other for two full years? Aren’t they just across the bridge from each other? The apes never wanted to sneak a peek at what the mean humans might be doing?

4. Will Kodi Smit-McPhee be typecast as the sons of benevolent male leaders in near-future dystopian films?

He likes graphic novels and orangutans. (Fox)

He likes graphic novels and orangutans. (Fox)


But yeah, I sort of wish that Alexander and Blue Eyes could’ve become buddies the way Malcolm and Caesar did. Though Blue Eyes frankly was a better role than even Alexander. What do we find out about this kid, anyway? That he likes reading comics and drawing stuff?

Conclusion: The ape scenes were a lot more interesting than the human scenes. I also sort of lost respect for Malcolm and his family when they were openly hanging out on James Franco’s front porch when they should’ve been hiding out from Koba and his cronies. They were on a mission to kill/capture all humans! Dummies.

A few other issues:

  • Whatever video camera James Franco was using in Rise of the Planet of the Apes certainly is a good-quality product to have survived 10 years, right?
  • Do people in San Francisco actually refer to the BART as the “subway”? I’ve never actually heard non–New Yorkers use this word to refer to their respective underground railway systems. I mean, people from Boston, D.C., London have Tmetro, and tube: Can someone clue me in?
  • What happened to the apes’ green eyes?
  • Did anyone else notice that Cornelia was in Rise? She was one of the apes (mentioned by name!) in that habitant overseen by Brian Cox and Draco Malfoy.

Man. I really liked this movie. Plus, when I got home, Rise of the Planet of the Apes was playing on FX, so score!

Also, it totally reminded me of The Lion King: Caesar’s kid’s birth, a standoff between the alpha and his nemesis, the good guy’s son temporarily listening to the bad guy, a stampede of wildebeesty things, etc.

T-minus three years (maybe) until the third one? Maybe Icarus will be featured…

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