16/07/2014

DOTPOTA

Ridiculously long title aside, Rise of the Planet of the Apes easily surpassed expectations thanks to revolutionary effects, a top notch performance from Andy Serkis and John Lithgow's mad scientist hair. We're all so cynical when reboots and remakes are announced the filmmakers are already fighting a losing battle before it's even been released despite near guarantee of financial success, but ROTPOTA managed to justify its existence. So what now? Well, it's ten years after the ALZ-113 virus led to the collapse of humanity and Caesar is the leader of a delightful ape community where big orange ones teach the alphabet to little ones, apes in positions of power ride horses and female apes have babies and circle the drain but hardly ever utter a word, as nature intended.

I wonder what could ruin this peaceful and seemingly happy existence for the now free apes? Humans, of course. One of them encounters Blue Eyes and Ash, the sons of Caesar and his pal Rocket, and panics, shooting Ash and kicking off issues again with apes and humans. But one guy believes they can co-exist after fixing a dam in ape territory that will provide long-term energy for what used to be San Francisco so he goes in and gains Caesar's trust before the other one who's already shot Ash cocks up again. Long story short, things get messy and a war breaks out between humans and apes that involves Koba, Caesar's number one dude, jumping through fire on a horse while brandishing a damn uzi. I'm not joking.

Did you notice I haven't mentioned any of the human people's names? That's because they don't matter and could easily be summed up in general terms: the good guy, the untrusting guy, the black guy, the woman, the latin guy who disappears after the first act, the damaged teen who expresses himself through drawings, and Gary Oldman. ROTPOTA was all about how Caesar became leader of the apes but maintained the love he has for Will (James Franco), and that's still there, but while he had Will in the first film, his relationship with - OK, I'll give him a name - Malcolm isn't as effective because we have no idea who Malcolm is. The screenwriters honestly think we'll give a shit about him just by mentioning the fact that he lost his wife to the virus. Everyone lost someone to the virus - what else you got?

Thin human characters aside, DOTPOTA is exciting and massively watchable, and that's really all to the effects and the people in the onesies covered with balls. I'm not going to weigh in on the argument that Andy Serkis and actors like him deserve awards because I can't be bothered, but he carries the film and thoroughly deserves top billing. Thanks to ROTPOTA being surprisingly good, DOTPOTA feels slightly disappointing, but a bunch of bland humans aren't enough to drag down the whole film that's still one of the strongest offerings from this year's blockbuster season so far.