Thrills and Feels
Review by Christopher Coleman
Two years ago the movie-watching-world got a pleasant surprise with RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES; however, the bad taste left by Tim Burton’s reimagining of THE PLANET OF THE APES, a decade earlier had not quite left the mouths of some. This somewhat hindered RISE from the box office heights it probably should have hit. That Wahlbergian-foulness was resilient enough to still be found in the detectable quantities come 2014 and the dawning of the sequel to RISE. DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES would see two significant changes behind the camera from director Rupert Wyatt to Matt Reeves and from Patrick Doyle to MICHAEL GIACCHINO as the score’s composer. Would such significant changes continue the resurrgence of the franchise or send it back down the apocalyptic hole from whence it came?
Thankfully, DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES has been both a critical and box office smash, hopefully setting us up for further sequels of similar quality. After a summer of critical failures raking in countless millions and the critically acclaimed under-performing at the box office, it is, on some level, a relief to see that quality story-telling and character development can be equally rewarded. In the case of DAWN, the story in this sequel is brilliantly told and shifts the central characters from the humans to the apes - who were by far the most interesting element of RISE. Caesar, Koba, Maurice, and Rocket are all back and they have built up a peaceful community of apes, thriving but mere miles from some of the humans that survived the ALZ 113 virus that exacted its mortal, global toll. With the humans struggling to maintain their hold on life, and the apes continuing to develop their own, the intersection of the two species was inevitable and the eventual, inherent plagues that seem to stem from intelligent, familial communities such as: hubris, mistrust, miscommunication, bare their ugly head and plunge the two groups into kill-or-be-killed-conflict.
Patrick Doyle’s 2011 score for RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, while adequate enough for the film, provided less emotional lift or personality than some hoped for, especially in comparison to another 2011, Doyle-project, THOR. That said, his triumphant “rise” theme delivered a couple of very emotional moments, especially at the film’s conclusion as the newly emancipated apes literally rise into the nearby forest-trees. If nothing else, this theme alone seemed to provide a solid launch pad for any sequels that might come, but alas, it wasn’t to be.