Watching and making movies, TV, reading comics, and all sorts of cool junk
There’s so much good TV. It’s actually insane how much good TV there’s been since January. We’re in July and just past the halfway point of 2014 and already the amount of incredible stuff out there is overwhelming, so here are some of my favorites of the year thus far.
Other Great Shows of 2014
Something Personal I Would Like to Mention
Shows Coming Up or Just Starting
After laying dormant for decades, one of science fictions most iconic franchises, The Planet of the Apes, was revived and at the same time quickly killed by Tim Burton and his wretched remake back in 2001. That’s why in the summer of 2011 Rise of the Planet of the Apes was such a delightful surprise. Now Planet of the Apes is officially back to being the high quality franchise it deserves to be with Matt Reeves’ Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, quite possibly the best in the franchise to date and one of the best films of the year. Set ten years after the manmade virus wiped out most of humanity, Caesar (Andy Serkis), the hyper intelligent chimp of Rise, leads a growing community of apes in the vast forests of California. Caesar has a wife and two sons and all seems well with the world of the highly evolved simians. Their peace is threatened when they discover a group of humans looking to repair the nearby dam and restore power to the dilapidated San Francisco. While Caesar and Malcolm (Jason Clarke), a human with a family of his own, try to forge an alliance, there are characters on both sides, human and ape, that are uneasy and doubt that there can ever be real peace between the two, which may just very well be the case.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is an astounding, character driven, post-apocalyptic science fiction film that is both intelligent and exciting. Dawn is one of the most bold big studio pictures in a long time. The apes get more screen time than the humans, which is just fine because they are just as interesting and fleshed out as any human characters would be. Caesar is the star of the film and Andy Serkis continues to bring tremendous depth to his motion capture characters. Caesar was raised by kind-hearted humans and has reason to believe there can be peace, but protecting his family is always his main objective. He is conflicted and torn between two worlds and it shows in Serkis’ incredible performance. Just as good as Serkis, is Toby Kebbell as Koba, Caesar’s right-hand man (ape) and a character that brings the weight of being tortured as a lab rat by humans prior to the viral apocalypse. Caesar and Koba’s friendship and the increasing tension between them is one of the most intriguing relationships in film all year. This is the apes’ film, but none of the human characters are wasted. Jason Clarke, like Caesar, is a good person who wants nothing but to protect the ones he cares for. Gary Oldman, playing Dreyfus, is the human leader and is less trust worthy of the apes and would do anything he has to protect what’s left of humanity. It’s tough to say if there are any real good or bad guys in the film, because really everyone is out to just survive. Yes, there is big action and grand spectacle, but the film never loses sight of the characters at the center of it all.
Loss is a major theme of the film as all the characters have lost something important to them. Caesar has lost the people that raised him. Malcolm has lost his wife. Malcolm’s son, Alex (Kodi Smit-McPhee), lost a mother. Keri Russell’s Ellie (Malcolm’s second wife whom he met years after the end of the world) has lost a daughter. Dreyfus lost his whole family. Koba’s has lost his ability to feel almost anything other than hate toward humanity. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a dark film and rightfully so given the subject matter. It’s science fiction at it’s best with many interpretations that could relate to racism, war (more so war of recent history), and civil unrest.
Apart from being a heavy and extraordinarily smart sci-fi film, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a technical marvel. The visual effects by Weta Digital (The Lord of the Rings, King Kong, and Avatar) are easily some of the best ever put to screen. Right from the very start you’ll ask yourself “how are these not real apes or men in suits?”. Michael Giacchino’s score is fantastic and often harkens back to the Jerry Goldsmith score of the original film. Then there is the highly detailed production design, which really sells the world of the film. Graffiti covered walls, plant life taking back San Francisco, and ape architecture all make this place feel lived in and real. It is amazing on all fronts.
Matt Reeves continues to get better with his film as Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is his best yet. The film doesn’t hold you hand and is often subtitled or in broken ape English, which in of itself should be commemorated in a big Hollywood film. It makes you believe that everyone behind this film was 100% confident in what they were making. Dawn is a remarkable film on every level, being both a sophisticated sci-fi thriller for adults and also a heart pumping summer blockbuster. It is one of the year’s best.
Things to Watch After Dawn
There are a lot of great horror films out in the world and there are plenty that not many people have seen. Because of that I’m going to start putting out a list of horror films that not many people have heard of in small batches from now till the end of time. This probably isn’t aimed at the diehard horror fans that’ve probably seen many of the films I’ll mention, but if you love horror films like I do, maybe you’ll catch something you may have missed. So, here’s my first 20 great horror films you’ve probably never seen.