Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Michael Giacchino

Coming up with song titles for a score or soundtrack can be a tricky business. The music for a film is usually released before the film itself to get audiences excited, but if the track listing reads like a spoiler list for what happens in the film, the music can end up being more upsetting than enticing. Other times the titles that make up a film score can be boring and forgettable (even if the music is not). However composer Michael Giacchino has taken a different approach by making his track titles stand out by giving them funny (even pun-y) titles.

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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes 06

Warning: Spoilers for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (and all of the Apes films, for that matter) When Battle for the Planet of the Apes ended the franchise’s first cinematic run in 1973, it concluded the series with something of a whimper instead of a bang. While many of the original Apes sequels are enduringly fascinating in their expanding narratives, trenchant topicality and surprisingly bleak endings, they were also assembly line products rushed through production annually, with nearly each successive entry’s budget slashed in half – a series constructed on a model of diminishing returns. Most of the normal creative team were not available for the fifth entry, so The Omega Man’s married screenwriting team of John and Joyce Corrington were hired to helm Battle despite being unfamiliar with the series. After inter- and intra-species conflict, Battle ends with a flash-forward (a bookending device) showing a monument of Caesar (Roddy McDowall) with a tear going down his face as the orangutan Lawgiver (John Huston) tells his story of unifying man and ape. The ending has been criticized then and now for its cloying, unearned sentimentality – perhaps the fatigue of Vietnam made even this call for peace in a “family film” ring false only four short years after John and Yoko urged Americans to give it a chance – and it emotes without ever really saying anything. Is the Caesar statue crying over achieving peace, or with the knowledge that peace is only temporary? Inadvertently or not, the ambivalence of this final moment […]

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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes 06

Circulating the Internet today are details on how Dawn of the Planet of the Apes nearly ended. There was a battleship involved, and there’s actually a shot of it in the trailer. The image, combined with the fact that it was a kind of cliffhanger moment reminds me of the conclusion of Resident Evil: Afterlife (that’s part 4) where the heroes have just arrived on an aircraft carrier and then are attacked from above as the credits begin. That franchise is all about the serialization. The Planet of the Apes movies are not. Although the original sequel, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, takes place right after the first movie and the next installment, Escape from the Planet of the Apes, starts with a return-from-cliffhanger type twist, afterward each movie was set years apart from its predecessor. And that’s how the new series is so far, too. The next one, due in 2016, should also be set at least a decade ahead. Director Matt Reeves, who is returning for Planet of the Apes 3 (as we’ll call it for now), spoke about the alternate ending with Slashfilm and said it was never finished, so don’t think it’ll wind up in the DVD extras. He also admits that he didn’t want such a cliffhanger to lock in where they have to go with the next movie. I don’t necessarily think it would, especially when you consider the way Rise of the Planet of the Apes ends in a way that indicated the sequel would […]

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Black Hole

If your weekend consisted of checking out Matt Reeves’ wonderful Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and then wrapping yourself in a warm blanket and reminding yourself that Little Caesar is a-okay (for now, and also, that is the baby ape’s name, right?) and just gently rocking for the remainder of Saturday and Sunday, we understand. But perhaps it’s time you emerge from your emotional fog and remember some of the less wrenching parts of the film. Like that time that Alexander (Kodi Smit-McPhee) made friends with Maurice (played by Karin Konoval) by sharing the magic of books, graphic novels, and storytelling. That was nice, right? And also, what was that book? Perhaps there is some subtext buried here. In Reeves’ film, young Alexander forges a tenuous connection with the big-hearted ape Maurice, who exhibits a love for reading and knowledge early in the film, through a book (Maurice, it seems, is teaching the little ones about both the rules that govern their society and how to express them via hand signal and the written word). Despite enduring tremendous hardships in his young life (like the death of his mother, Simian Flu in general, and the dismantling of society as we know it), Alexander is still a regular teen at heart — and that’s reflected in his choice of reading material: Charles Burns‘ “Black Hole.” But what is “Black Hole”? And, wait, is there already a movie about the seminal graphic novel? Sort of.

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Return to the Planet of the Apes

What would you do if someone stole your priceless, first edition copy of “The Complete Works of William Apespeare?” Not a typo. This week’s excavation of the bizarre history of television cartoons is Return to the Planet of the Apes, the only animated entry in the illustrious simian franchise if you’re not counting the CGI accomplishments of Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Only one season was produced, 13 episodes that aired on NBC in the fall of 1975. Then it was canceled and relegated to the dustbins of cartoon history. This was two years after the final installment of the original film series and one year after the equally short-lived Planet of the Apes TV series. The cartoon was the last gasp of the franchise before its revival in 2001, more of a farewell than a homecoming. But now, thanks to the marvel that is the Internet, you can watch all of it on Hulu for free!

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Ciao-Maschio-2

Earlier this week, I wrote about one of the worst movies ever made, Congo. It’s actually just a single example of the many terrible movies involving apes and monkeys, which form a whole subcategory in the worst movies of all time canon. The group includes titles where actors wear gorilla suits as well as those where real chimps, orangutans or other primates are trained to play sports, drive cars, wear costumes of their own or provide comic relief in some other fashion. Thank goodness we have something like Rise of the Planet of the Apes and now its sequel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, to make us forget about the crap that’s come before it. Yet there has also been a lot of great ape movies ahead of this rebooted Planet of the Apes series. Most of them are documentaries, but there are a number of fiction films and dramas based on true stories that ought to be recognized, to keep them in the spotlight while leaving stuff like Congo, Ed, Buddy, Link, Dunston Checks In and so many more in the shadows where they belong. Of course, as this week’s big movie is a sequel to a reboot, it’s recommended that you also look back at the originals. At least the first Planet of the Apes and second sequel Escape From the Planet of the Apes and definitely not Tim Burton’s 2001 remake. Also, obviously Rise (obviously, right, but I went to see Dawn with someone who didn’t even know […]

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Congo Martini

If I was disappointed with Jurassic Park, there was no reason for me to be hopeful about Congo. I didn’t even like the book of the latter as much as I did the dino novel, but I guess I believed it wouldn’t take as much to be faithful to Michael Crichton’s 1980 ape-filled adventure story. To me, at that time in my life, retaining and translating everything from page to screen was important. And given all that was altered in the adaptation for the worse, I would remain in that camp for a few more years. There are a lot of things that make Congo one of the most awful movies ever made, but the thing that’s always been a clincher for me is the portrayal of Amy the Gorilla. I didn’t really mind that it was a person in a costume, especially since there wasn’t much better in the movies to compare it to then. Computers could create a convincing T. rex, but realistically rendered hairy primates were not yet in the cards for Hollywood in 1995. Instead, I’m referring to the way they made the ASL-fluent gorilla wear a mechanical glove to translate her signing. Obviously the decision was made to pander to moviegoers so we didn’t have to read subtitles of Amy’s communication with her trainer, Dr. Peter Elliot (Dylan Walsh). In the context of the story, however, it didn’t make any sense for her to have the prosthetic. It would’ve been an unnecessary expense when Elliot could already understand her just fine, and […]

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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Reeves

When some actors and directors promote an adaptation or remake they’ll pretend they’ve always been fans of the original movie or the comic. You can generally tell when they’re lying, trying to pander to fans. Thankfully, real die-hard fans often get to be a part of properties that actually mean something to them. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes director, Matt Reeves, is one of those people. Like most kids growing up in the ’80s, the New York-born filmmaker gravitated toward E.T., Close Encounters, and Star Wars. For Reeves, though, those films never held a candle to Planet of the Apes. “That was my obsession. That was my Star Wars,” he tells us over the phone, counting the hours until the film opens this Friday. When it comes to the Apes franchise the original film and, the strangest of the series, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, are his favorites — Reeves is still shaken by the image of the mutated humans removing their faces in the latter film. He also has a deep fondness for the television series which only lasted, to his surprise, three months back in 1974. “I thought for sure it was on for years because it took up so much of my childhood. I had dolls, the records, and these comic books. I was so obsessed with that world.”

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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

Rise of the Planet of the Apes was so impressive it washed the taste of Tim Burton’s failed Apes remake out of our mouths for good. If there was a problem with the 2011 reboot, it was that the humans, while adequate, did not match the screen presence of the real leads of the film: Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his followers. The sequel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, wisely keeps its focus on the apes while also putting enough thought into the humans to make director Matt Reeves‘ movie a consistently thrilling and emotional summer blockbuster. Ten years after the Golden Gate Bridge showdown, the simian flu has killed billions. The Apes, who’ve now built a peaceful community together, even wonder if there are any humans left. Led by their strong leader, Caesar, who’s now a family man, they live by a simple code: apes don’t harm apes. They’ve seen the mistakes made by humans and do not want history to repeat itself. Their way of life is interrupted (as it often is) when people enter the picture. Led by Malcolm (Jason Clarke), a group of humans want to enter Caesar’s territory, hoping to bring power back to San Francisco. Both sides have to work together to make this happen, so naturally, hate and distrust bubble up between the two sides.

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summermovieprediction_week11

Welcome to week eleven of our 2014 Summer Box-Office Challenge! Think of it as a summer-long contest for movie-lovers — you’ll make predictions and guesses as to which summer movies will rule the box-office each week, we award points and at the end of the contest the three top point-earners will each win a Blu-ray/DVD prize pack! First place will win ten (10) Blu-ray/DVD titles released throughout the coming summer, second place wins five (5) and third place wins two (2). We’ll have bonus questions each week as well to help bolster your point totals and keep you in the running. The actuals will be in later today, but they won’t change Transformers‘ hold on the top spot in the face of three newcomers. It handily beat Earth to Echo and Deliver Us From Evil, and even Tammy came in $15 million under. Good news for Michael Bay and Paramount? Sure. But the fact that it dropped a hefty 64% as well (and may end up as the lowest grossing entry of the franchise? No so good. Its $36m haul was at the low end of players’ guesses leading to a minor shake-up in our top five ranking. Keep reading to see the latest standings and to play along this week.

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Andy Serkis Smeagol Hobbit

When the biggest movie of the calendar year is a nearly three-hour festival of noise starring automotive robots, it’s easy to fear that the human element of filmmaking is slowly being lost to digital effects and bottom line corporate interests. But the career of Andy Serkis provides a powerful demonstration as to how the human capacity for imagination and feeling can work with, not against, the utilities of motion picture technology towards groundbreaking ends. Serkis considers himself an actor first and foremost, but he occupies a unique and privileged place across so many film properties that could otherwise easily be bereft of inspiration, content to live in the uncanny valley of requisite CGI. Serkis’ work requires his presence during all levels of production, and in so doing he operates as a medium between a filmmaker’s vision and their collaboration with cast and crew both in front of and behind the camera. His body is, in summary, the place in which the material and immaterial aspects of 21st century filmmaking play out. So here is a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from the guy who only sometimes plays a human being.

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Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

June ended with a blockbuster that encapsulated everything wrong with most summer movies. Bloated, thin, self-indulgent, mean-spirited, and incomprehensible are a few ways to describe Michael Bay‘s Transformers: Age of Extinction. It’s not the worst film of the series, but it’ll definitely go down as one of the worst films of the summer. Still, audiences love Bay’s brand and the film made more money domestically in its opening weekend than Edge of Tomorrow has thus far stateside, which is just heartbreaking. Thankfully, we have summer movies like Edge of Tomorrow and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes to remind us not all blockbusters are run-of-the-mill studio products. Besides Dawn of the Planet of the Apes or another viewing of Edge of Tomorrow there’s plenty of other movies to check out this month. Here are the must see movies of July 2014:

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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

Perhaps the most intriguing thing about Matt Reeves‘ upcoming Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (DOTPOTA, if you’re feeling saucy) is that the sequel to Rise of the Planet of the Apes jumps ahead a whole decade, presenting an entirely new world that’s been ravaged by a bunch of things: Simian flu, human greed, and unbridled ape power. The first film ended with all hell just breaking loose, so to zip forward into, well, that actual hell, is pretty damn bold. But time jumps don’t necessarily work for everyone, and while we have no doubt that Reeves’ film will fill in the holes in a satisfying manner, sometimes you just want to see a little glimpse of everything that happened in the interim. Turns out, 20th Century Fox knows that, and the studio has teamed up with some young filmmakers to craft three short films that look at life in the Time of Ape at different increments — Year 1, Year 5, and Year 10 (just before Dawn of the Planet of the Apes kicks off). The three shorts, known collectively as Before the Dawn, are all live over at Vice (via /Film), along with a pretty terrifying look at some special apes who live in our own, non-movie world, but you can also check them out after the break. Let’s see what we’ve missed so far:

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Godzilla Through Goggles

“Let them fight.” As we see in the “Asia trailer” for Godzilla, at some point Ken Watanabe’s character says the above line, and it’s definitely a meta moment for a monster movie featuring a ton of human characters. Godzilla in action is what audiences are most interested in seeing. But is it the only thing? Do they want a human angle, too? What if there were no people in this new reboot, or at least none that had any narrative arc or dialogue? Would we be interested in a nearly “silent” film in which the King of Monsters destroys cities for our enjoyment while ant-like military men shoot at him anonymously? What if another monster is thrown in there so there’s some discernible “plot” entailing a battle between the giant beasts, both of them just roaring and screeching at each other? Unfortunately, I don’t think Hollywood would ever allow for a blockbuster that doesn’t have movie stars spewing worthless words or at least a voiceover narration providing exposition. Yet a lot of moviegoers tend to agree that the humans in movies like Godzilla just get in the way and slow the thing down. Why must we care about a handful of characters when thousands of unnamed other people are stomped on and we aren’t meant to bat an eyelash for them? And who cares why the monster is heading toward San Francisco? These rhetorical questions fit with a discussion prompted by David Ehrlich on the latest episode of the Fighting in the […]

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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

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:

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The Guardians of the Galaxy

The summer season may not be the best time of year for film, but it’s usually the most exciting. 2014′s blockbusting period starts this coming Friday with the release of The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Unsurprisingly, that will be the first and last mention of the film on this list of our most anticipated summer movies. We polled the staff and tallied the votes to determine the ten summer movies we’re most excited about this year, and while some of the results are expected one or two surprises made (or missed) the list, too. Some of the films that came close to making the list but not close enough include the long-awaited adaptation The Giver, the animated sequel How to Train Your Dragon 2, Disney’s Maleficent and Seth MacFarlane’s Ted follow-up A Million Ways to Die in the West. A title that not a single one us picked as one of most anticipated? Transformers: Age of Extinction. I mean seriously… someone even picked Sin City 2 over Michael Bay’s latest. Keep reading to see the ten films that we’re most looking forward to this summer.

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Tees Maar Khan

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. There will be a quiz later. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

“Apes on Horses! Apes on Horses!” exclaims a giddy title from Badass Digest‘s Devin Faraci in an article about new Dawn of the Planet of the Apes photos being released into the wild. As he continues in his assessment of these new stills from the Fox marketing team, he calls out the fact that early footage never quite sold this new apes film, but these stills do. Their greatest achievement: a sense of realism not yet seen in any of the numerous attempts to bring the Planet of the Apes world to life. Even as impressive as Rupert Wyatt’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes was in 2011, there was still a bit of an uncanny valley gap with Caesar (played in motion capture by Andy Serkis). The most impressive CGI ape in that movie was the most exotic, an orangutan that didn’t quite get a lot of screentime. Most of the effort went into creating Caesar (and the film’s climactic battle on the Golden Gate bridge), and even he still had a bit of shine. This time though, the wizards of WETA  have absolutely created a photoreal group of apes that have increasingly human characteristics. Such as intricate facial expressions, emotional response and yes, the ability to ride horses and fire guns. It’s even more impressive a feat when you consider how far the craft of visual effects has come since the first Planet of the Apes film was released in 1968. It’s a history I’d like to explore for a moment in photos.

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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The teaser trailer for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is one steady breath before the exhalation of war. It’s a free shot of adrenaline provided by director Matt Reeves, who brings his Cloverfield-sized destruction to the world that Heston wrought. Not only does the CGI look uncomfortably real (can Andy Serkis get an Oscar now, please?), the action looks excellent, and Gary Oldman seems to be bringing his usual enthusiasm to what might be the last chance for humanity. Check out the trailer for yourself:

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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Yesterday at Comic-Con, 20th Century Fox took the stage early in the afternoon with a massive task at hand: do something people will remember, even after they watch the Marvel Studios presentation in the evening. It took the entire casts of 2 X-Men movies and an aggressive army of talking apes, but they may have done it. The reactions were strong, including a number of attendees citing the scope of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and the intricate nature of the apes’ development of communication. The photo above is the first released photo from the film, showing Caesar (played by Andy Serkis) leading his troops. After the jump, director Matt Reeves talks about what drew him to the project, what direction they took with the story and some chatting with the cast.

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