“Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes”

Ape vs man for the 8th (!!!!) time and the best actioner of the summer.

I went bananas for these apes. It’s all about the apes. The humans don’t even appear on screen for 15 minutes. And only 2 humans are bonofide stars, Keri Russell, who plays a CDC doc and Gary Oldman, the leader of the humans.

It’s astounding how real the apes look, thanks to motion capture technology. Andy Serkis has made a career in CGI characters- he’s Gollum from “The Lord Of The Rings” and “The Hobbit”. Serkis returns as Caesar, who we first met in the 2011 “Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes” , starring James Franco, who we get to see in a couple of flashbacks. When we last saw the genetically enhanced Caesar, he was leading other mutated apes into the Northern California woods. We pick up ten years later , still in the woods ,where Caesar is the leader of the ape nation. The humans are almost extinct, thanks to a particularly deadly flu. A simian flu. One more reason for the humans to hate the apes.

Set in a post-apocalyptic San Francisco, this turns into a battle of who will control the world: the apes or the humans. You won’t get the answer. Yes- a 9th (!!!) “Planet Of The Apes” flick is on the way. It all started more than 55 years ago with Charlton Heston and James Franciscus with Kim Hunter and Roddy McDowell as apes.

My one (minor) complaint. Why why why the 3-D??

This movie lives up to its name- “Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes” really IS a new dawn for this blockbuster franchise.

3-and-a-half stars


A new genre is born with this masterpiece filmed over 12 years with the same actors.

I have never seen a movie like this. And I probably won’t again. It’s a story about growing up, seen through the eyes of a child over 12 years. Everyone ages naturally over the 12 years because the same actors were filmed OVER the 12 years, shooting 3 to 4 days each year.

Director/writer Richard Linklater’s original plan was to devote 10 minutes to each of the 12 years but the film runs close to 3 hours. Trust me, most of it flies by . I actually didn’t want this film to end. I was that invested. So invested in this family’s life, I had to keep reminding myself it wasn’t a documentary.

The story revolves around Mason , played by Austin , Texas native and newcomer Ellar Coltrane. Starring as his sister: another newcomer - Lorelei Linklater, the daughter of the film’s creator. In a career-defining role, Oscar-worthy Patricia Arquette plays the mom. Ethan Hawke is the dad. Hawke is the Linklater go-to star. Ethan stars and helped write Linklater’s other genre-bender, what’s referred to as the “Before” series: a trilogy of a love relationship shot ten years apart. “Before Sunset”, “Before Midnight” and “Before Sunrise” co-stars Julie Delpy, who also helped with the script. Another must for your DVD list.

As Linklater put it, not much happens in “Boyhood”. It’s a film of moments. As one actor put it at the movie’s end, the old adage is backward. It’s not “seize the moment”. It’s the moment that is seized. That’s what this film is: seizing moments of growing up. Seizing moments of a family. In life, it’s the moments we remember. “Boyhood” is profound and simple, all at once.

“Boyhood” is a love letter to Texas, where Houston native Linklater shot his dark comedy “Bernie” with Jack Black and Shirley MacLaine (a DVD must for your list), “Dazed and Confused” (which launched the career of Matthew McConaughey) and “Slacker”. Linklater’s devotion to Texas is even reflected in the musical choices for “Boyhood” , which includes Arcade Fire, whose lead grew up in a burb of Houston. Linklater is so Texas-centered , he refuses to spend much working time away from his home in Austin.

Character-driven and as wise as it is funny, “Boyhood” is easily the finest film I’ve seen all year. Linklater’s gotta be an Oscar nominee. He’s a true trailblazer . Anyone in any family will relate. If you see just one movie this year, make it “Boyhood”.

4 stars