MOVIE REVIEW: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)

REVIEW SUMMARY: A worthy sequel to 2011’s reboot of the classic franchise that often surprises with strong characters and a certain amount of insight even as its climax underwhelms.

MY RATING:

SYNOPSIS: After a virus has wiped out much of humanity, a surviving population of humans attempts to seek a truce with intelligent apes to help rebuild civilization.

MY REVIEW:
PROS: Often engaging script; well-crafted action sequences; beautifully realized post-apocalyptic landscape, and of course the apes.
CONS: Competent direction from Matt Reeves that takes too few chances after its powerful opening; social commentary on occasion feels forced; bland human characters.
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Today at 5:15 PM CT at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, TX, there will be a live Q&A to promote Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Editor Devin Faraci will moderate the Q&A with director Matt Reeves and stars Andy Serkis and Gary Oldman.

What’s that? You can’t be there? That’s OK. You can watch the live Q&A right here!

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Planet of the Apes is one of my favorite classic SciFi movies. Sure, it’s a little hokey and dated in places, but the central science fiction conceits are wonderful, mostly thanks to Rod Serling’s and Michael Wilson’s screenplay. As I’ve said before, it’s an excellent science fiction film whose social commentary still stands up today.

Roddy McDowall apparently carried a film camera with him while on the set. Here’s the video he captured during the filming. Most of it covers his transformation into a simian, but there are also some cool flyovers of the beach set and some off-screen smiles from the film’s stars.

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Here’s one of my favorite moments from The Simpsons

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TRAILER: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Here’s the first official look at Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, whose plot synopsis is:

A growing nation of genetically evolved apes led by Caesar is threatened by a band of human survivors of the devastating virus unleashed a decade earlier. They reach a fragile peace, but it proves short-lived, as both sides are brought to the brink of a war that will determine who will emerge as Earth’s dominant species.

The film stars Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, and Andy Serkis.
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Can’t get more descriptive as the ttle of this post…

Words and Pictures: Planet of the Apes and Elephantmen

Two comics based on an identical science fictional trope: humanoid animals walking, talking and fighting. Both pretty good, but doing radically different things with that basic idea.

Planet of the Apes, Vol 1: The Long War

written by Daryl Gregory, art by Carlos Magno, published by Boom! Studios

This new ongoing series is written by the (rather talented) speculative fiction author Daryl Gregory and drawn by Carlos Magno. I figured it might be worth a try, the whole apes-as-overlords thing being one of the most fun ideas in science fiction. Honestly, if you don’t get a little buzz out of gorillas riding horses and brandishing guns as they herd humans around … well, I don’t know if I can help you.

The story’s set 1300 years before Charlton Heston’s unscheduled arrival in the 1968 movie. Ape society is at its steampunky zenith, with humans making up a somewhat rebellious underclass. Things turn ugly when the Lawgiver, an ape champion of species equality, is mown down by a human assassin wielding lost ancient technology (specifically, a machine gun).

What follows is an entertaining, if not yet especially surprising, yarn as ape and human authorities hunt the assassin and the simmering pot of ape-human relations boils over. (Actually, one surprising thing, which you rarely see in any kind of fiction: the leading female human protagonist is heavily pregnant. Intriguing.)

The mystery of the assassin’s identity won’t puzzle readers for long, but it’s not really supposed to. This is less of a ‘Whodunnit?’ and more of a ‘Let’s get this revolution started!’ thing. It’s traditional, straightforward comics story-telling; a long form linear narrative, adeptly paced and splendidly illustrated (some gorgeous ape imagery here). Early days, but there’s enough potential to persuade me back for at least one more volume, to see how things develop.

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SF Tidbits for 8/17/09

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SF Tidbits for 7/21/09

  • The first-ever original novel based on the classic Planet of the Apes film series, Conspiracy of the Planet of the Apes, arrives in spring 2010 from Blam!. In the meantime, there is the corresponding blog…[via Lou Anders and Chris Roberson]
  • NightShade interviews Nathalie Mallet, author of The King’s Daughters.
  • Reading and Writing Podcast interviews Kevin J. Anderson, author of The Edge of the World.
  • The DVD of Coraline hits stores today. (There’s still time to enter out easy-to-enter giveaway!) And Coraline movie memorabilia is being auctioned off on eBay to benefit the Starlight Children’s Foundation. Items include:
    • A Limited Edition Coraline Nike Dunks that were produced exclusively for the film; some have been signed by Dakota Fanning, some remain unsigned.
    • Original Coraline books written by Neil Gaiman and signed by film voice actors Teri Hatcher and Dakota Fanning.
    • Authentic original film posters, signed by Teri Hatcher and Dakota Fanning
    • Collector’s Edition DVDs.
  • Mirrorstone, the dragon song contest sponsored by Wizards of the Coast for kids ages 8-14, is on! Entrants will write lyrics set to the story of the Green Dragon, and the winning lyrics will then be set to music tied in with A Practical Guide to Dragons and the books in the Dragon Codex series. See here for details.
  • AT SF Scope, Ian Randal Strock number-crunches the Hugos.
  • Newsarama lists 4 Things Comics Get Wrong About Supervillains.
  • GeekDad lists The Top 10 Evil Geeks in the Movies.
TIP: Follow SF Signal on Twitter and Facebook for additional tidbits not posted here!

MOVIE REVIEW: Planet of the Apes (1968)

REVIEW SUMMARY: An excellent science fiction film whose social commentary still stands up today.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Astronauts land on a planet where humans are primitive and talking apes are the dominant species.

MY REVIEW:
PROS: Thought-provoking science fiction; engrossing story; excellent make-up effects.
CONS: Some of the filmmaking methods seem dated.
BOTTOM LINE: Planet of the Apes still holds up as an excellent science fiction film.

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REVIEW SUMMARY: An enjoyable book even if you’ve seen the original film.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Astronaut/Reporter Ulysse Mérou struggles for intellectual freedom among a society of Apes on another planet.

MY REVIEW:
PROS: Classic sf feel; fast-paced; interesting situations and portrayals; not the ending I was expecting having only seen the 1968 film.
CONS: Clunky translated narrative; questionable science at times.
BOTTOM LINE: Well worth the read even if you think you know how it will turn out.

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