I don’t watch as many animated movies as I should be, and realize I’ve missed out this year some big hitters. However on browsing the latest rental releases, this took my interest as I recalled really enjoying the first movie. This long time coming sequel pretty much picks up where we left off, with our super-hero family having to go about their crime fighting adventures in secret, with a law having been passed outlawing people with powers. This brings in a wealthy brother and sister who propose to change things for the better by hiring Elastigirl (voiced by Holly Hunter) to showcase just how good super heroes are to the masses.
I’m a little bit sick of this concept of the public unsure of or shunning super heroes. They almost becoming the enemy when there’s all too many actual enemies out there. A similar plot device was used in Captain America Civil War and Batman V Superman. Why does Hollywood think we want our heroes being portrayed with such distrust and fear? Aren’t they meant to be the heroes? Thankfully this admittedly very entertaining and visually arresting movie jumps between such plot threads and a twist on family responsibilities and throws in plenty of spectacular action. The villain though is sign posted a bit too well and I guessed their identity easily. Also there’s a clear feminist slant to the reversal of roles and some of the dialogue and themes, which yeah is everywhere right now. As unnecessary as it clearly is in a movie that was never just about the male lead anyway.
The voice work is top notch though including a welcome turn from Breaking Bad’s Bob Odenkirk, and Pixar’s animation is as gorgeous as ever (even if the character design is a bit ugly … what’s with Elastigirl’s massive ass?). Overall and considering the long wait for this, I was expecting a bit more … the villain is forgettable and cliched and the story adds nothing to the formula. As it stands though, this is still a lot of fun regardless of wasted potential.
The last reboot of the fabled POTA saga was a refreshingly different take on the mythos, letting us in on a backstory that was only ever hinted at in the classic movie franchise. It was the Apes movie we as cinema goers deserved, further pushing from our minds Tim Burton’s earlier, ill-judged remake. This follow-up starts ten years after the events of the first, where we meet a group of surviving humans (lead by Gary Oldman), living in a tower in a destroyed and mostly abandoned San Francisco. The virus that spread at the end of ‘Rise has wiped out much of mankind all but for a few immune who hope to take back a world that seems to have left them for dead. Their only chance is to travel through the red forest to the Hoover Damn, where it’s power could reignite hope. Only problem is a tribe of scientifically-advanced apes, lead by Caesar (Andy Serkis) stand in their way and want nothing more to do with humans.
Again this is a visual tour-de-force. The mostly CGI apes have become even more convincing (albeit for a couple of moments) and small little details in their expressions and varied personalities all help create characters that look and feel alive. Caesar this time has an adolescent son and a new born baby to worry about as well as growing tension amongst his tribe as humans begin to invade their territory … who does he side with and who does he trust? It’s a strong message and also a worryingly believable concept if our closest relatives were to suddenly ‘evolve’. Good support on the human-front comes from the recognisable but name-escaped-me at the time Jason Clarke (Lawless, Zero Dark Thirty) and also Oldman who regrettably didn’t go psycho bad-guy on us … but was decent regardless. But this clearly was about the apes, and for a movie to be so convincingly carried by CGI characters, despite the performances that exists underneath all the techno-wizardry, is a revelation – especially when at times it really affected me emotionally (Caesar’s relationship with his son ‘bright eyes’…). To back up the performances, we have several action sequences even if the movie lacks a rival to Rise’s Golden Gate Bridge stand-out scene – but this time around I found this more a character-piece, and we do get a great villain, whose identity I won’t spoil for you.
It’s been said Andy Serkis, who also played Gollum in the Hobbit / Lord of the Rings, as Caesar really should nab himself an Oscar, and with such a layered and powerful turn, I can’t disagree. This was a brilliantly-conceived and intelligently put together sequel to a genuine surprise of a reboot … and I for one can’t wait for what comes next.
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