Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Great Work, Andy Serkis

To me, this has been an odd summer at the box office.  Big movies with colossal budgets have come and gone within a couple of weeks, it seems.  Big stars didn't get big attention at the box office.  Maybe  moviegoers were so overwhelmed by the huge productions opening every week that they just didn't know which one to see.

Two weeks after it opened, I heard no one talking about this year's Godzilla remake.  I don't have a friend or acquaintance who mentioned having seen the summertime Tom Cruise action movie release, Edge of Tomorrow.  Remember when the new Tom Cruise action/fantasy thriller was the big buzz in summer entertainment news?  Not this year.   Jon Hamm starred in Disney's Million Dollar Arm.  That baseball movie struck out at the box office.  Transcendence starring Johnny Depp tanked.

I went to see Dawn of the Planet of the Apes only because top critics raved about it.  I didn't see the previous installment in which all the apes wound up in San Francisco with James Franco.

How did I feel about this new movie in the "apes" franchise?  I have to write this -- Bravo, Andy Serkis.  He made Dawn of the Planet of the Apes worth every single penny of the ticket price.
I'd give Andy Serkis an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.  His performance as Caesar, the leader of the apes, is brilliant in this installment.  The combination of humanity and truth Serkis brings to his performance as Caesar in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is marvelous and touching.

We see that the apes under Caesar's rule can behave like humans at their best.  We see that humans can behave like beasts.  Can humans and ape become friends?  Can trust be established?  Can there be peace?  Can Caesar keep the humans' guns out of his kingdom ?  Will jealousy, anger and intolerance lead to a revolt within the animal kingdom followed by ape-on-ape crime?  There's such a smart script and it's so socially relevant that this is one of the best in the franchise since the famous 1968 Planet of the Apes starring Charlton Heston.  As for the special effects, I did sit in my seat slack-jawed and wondering "How'd they do that?"  What many big Hollywood productions heavy with special effects don't do today is give you that humanity and intelligence within a fantasy story.  There isn't that core of the human condition.  Think of the anti-nuclear war message of 1968's Planet of the Apes.  Think of our American black slave history allegory and the racial overtones in 1933's King Kong.  1951's The Day The Earth Stood Still carried a strong anti-arms aggression message with a space alien of super-intellect who was also somewhat of a Christ figure.  The good, protective maternal nature of Ripley battles evil male corporate greed in Aliens.  Compare the substance of those films to the Transformers movies.  I loved the wit, heart, intelligence and situations in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

Andy Serkis became known internationally thanks to his Gollum in the Lord of the Rings films.  That's where we became aware of his high-tech performance artistry.

His acting this time around as Caesar made the ape leader one of the most memorable characters I've seen in a film so far this year.  Even though he's a fantasy character, he's totally believable in what he wants for his life, for his community and for his family.  There's such depth and feeling to the actor's work.  It's like Andy Serkis has become the Meryl Streep of high-tech actors.
Caesar's voice, movements and motivations are so different from Gollum's.  This is fine character acting in a very good and very entertaining movie with plenty of action.  I think you'll dig it.

And, once again.....Bravo, Andy Serkis.  Excellent work.

1 comment:

  1. I would love to be part of this team....I love Fiction and I hope to work with you guys someday....


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