Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

20th Century Fox

Following in the political footsteps of the original series (of books and films), Dawn of the Planet of the Apes puts Jason Clarke’s peace-seeking character Malcolm in the middle of a world spoiling for war. It proves that, at the very least, the reboot sequel will make an interesting double feature with Zero Dark Thirty.

Meanwhile, the biggest question facing this movie is how well director Matt Reeves and Andy Serkis’ Caesar can keep us engaged when we know the ultimate outcome of the story. Even for those who haven’t seen the original movies, the climax is right there in the title, and it’s my guess that dawn is going to break pretty damned hard.

The first full trailer gives us a sniper’s eye view of the coming storm — a band of humans led by Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) has been hobbled for a decade by a man-made virus while a growing group of evolved simians wants to stake its own claim on society. Clarke’s character looks to go all Dances With Wolves (or Avatar) on everyone by touching foreheads with a chimpanzee and understanding his foe.

Check it out for yourself:

Thrilling in its darkness, but I’m still skeptical. Mostly because the CGI looks a little wonky on the small screen (which is a silly complaint because I’m sure it’ll be outstanding in a theater), and because there’s no hint yet of what will fill the minutes.

However, on that front, it’s exciting to think that Reeves is delivering a survival story where we get to watch the slow, steady insanity that develops when you march toward the inevitable. A hairy heart of darkness. My fear is that writer Mark Bomback doesn’t have anything in his filmography other than The Wolverine to boost confidence. Every other title he has his name on — ahem, Live Free or Die Hard – makes me want to pull out the rabbit’s foot. Plus, Fox has a stellar track record of ruining things.

Worries aside, I’m psyched at the prospect of a dark, tragic blockbuster that doesn’t feature any spandex and balances tension on its edge until war consumes everything. There’s a bold, devastating story hiding in that DNA, and if they draw it out in this movie, it’s going to be absolutely incredible.

It’ll also be cool when Caesar asks Commissioner Gordon if he knows how he got his scars.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is in theaters July 11th.


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