My take on…Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
- Official Site
- Dawn of the Planet of the Apes at IMDb.com
- Dawn of the Planet of the Apes at MRQE.com
- Dawn of the Planet of the Apes at RottenTomatoes.com
I’m a big time Planet of the Apes fan, as I explained in
I even have a Planet of the Apes category on this blog.
In general, this latest movie was not a disappointment. Andy Serkis deserved (and got) top billing for the actor’s mocap (motion capture) performance as Caesar, the leader of the apes.
The effects are good (they clearly paid attention to hair moving…that’s a little thing, but it matters), even if the faces sometimes seem too brightly lit compared to the rest of the scene.
The script moved nicely, and had some clever twists to it.
It’s a big-time spectacle with an emotional center, which is just what you want in a summer blockbuster.
It was perhaps the most sexist movie I’ve seen in years.
I’m careful not to spoil things, so I’m going to give you a mild
I’m not going to reveal any key plot points, but I am going to mention a few things.
This movie not only failed
it’s one named (human) female character was relegated to the kind of nurturing support you might expect in a 1950s mainstream movie (1950s science fiction was more advanced than this in how women are treated).
First, a quick note on the Bechdel Test.
There are a lot of ways to say it (for more information, see the link above), but to pass the test, a movie (or TV episode, or book, or other work of fiction) has to have three elements:
- There must be two or more named female characters in it
- Two female characters must have a meaningful conversation and
- The conversation has to be about something other than a man
You might be surprised with how many works fail this test.
Even when people define it more loosely than I did on the second point (some people say any conversation counts, including: “Where’s the printer?” “Over there.”), it’s still a disappointingly small percentage.
In the case of DotPotA, Ellie (played by Keri Russell), seems particularly stereotyped.
What does the character do?
- When an important male character is working hard on an issue, she observers that he needs to eat, and offers him soup…much as June Cleaver might have done with Ward
- When there is a dangerous situation happening, she stays back…and sends a character off like a soldier going to battle
- Yes, she is important to the plot because of her medical skills…I don’t recall it ever being said that she is a doctor. Being a nurse can be equally important, but it is a stereotypically female role (that has changed a great deal in the real world, but I would say that many people with a diminishing opinion of women would still see it as a female role)
- Her “maternal nature” (that term isn’t used in the movie, I’m just defining the observed behavior) is important in relationships between the humans and the apes
- Does she come up with any ideas that affect the course of things? Does she lead? I don’t really recall either of those happening
There are stronger female characters among the apes, although they still don’t lead.
The only other human females I recall seeing are in crowd scenes.
I was honestly surprised to see that one of the three credited screenwriters was apparently a woman (Amanda Silver), but that may be my own expectations getting in the way…I wouldn’t expect a woman to write a script like this, but of course, there’s no reason that couldn’t happen.
Hopefully, the already announced third movie in this series will do better in this area.
END SPOILER ALERT
The bottom line is that Andy Serkis’ performance is great (again) and Nick Thurston as Blue Eyes was another stand-out, the effects are good, the plot moves along…but the treatment (and lack of treatment) of female characters mars what would otherwise have been a very good movie. I can still recommend it, but with that reservation.
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