Film Review: DON OF THE PLANET OF THE APES

Don of the Planet of the Apes

No matter how much he begs you, do NOT take your helper monkey to see this movie.

Studio:  20th Century Fox
Director: Matt Reeves
Writers: Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver and Mark Bomback, based on characters by Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver and Matthew Weiner

As both a follow-up to 2011’s Rise of Planet of the Apes and spin-off of AMC’s Mad Men, this hybrid sequel/prequel/reboot/off-shoot is as loud as it is contemplative.  Initial fears of Apes franchise fans (“Apies” as they like to be called) that the inclusion of Don Draper was nothing more than a crass attempt by cynical Hollywood execs to appeal to the Asian youth market prove to be unfounded.  The story of a group of primates who team up with a legendary ad man to subjugate the remnants of humanity is a universal tale that, much like the titular Don, transcends time and space.  Director Reeves deftly melds the two juggernaut franchises into a singular epic so seamless, you will shit your pants.  Domestic returns should be strong and Jon Hamm’s immense popularity among North Korean adolescents should only bolster the film’s international box office to boot.

Don of the Planet of the Apes was originally set to bow immediately following the series finale of Mad Men, but with the 2nd half of that show’s final season pushed back to 2015, it remains to be seen just how Don Draper winds up where he does at the beginning of the film.  We can gather this much, though: At some point in the early 1970s, Don Draper becomes an astronaut and volunteers for a solo mission to the outer reaches of the solar system.

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Upon returning to a scorched Earth and discovering everyone he’s ever known and loved has either been killed by a viral pandemic or at the hands of a blood-thirsty ape, Don Draper retreats to a cave where he spends the bulk of the first act futilely shoving his penis into any hole that presents itself, praying for a release that can never come.  When ape-leader Caesar stumbles upon Draper’s lair, Draper’s first instinct is to have sex with him.  When that doesn’t work, Draper further retreats into an even deeper cave.

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Caesar is played by Andy Serkis, who was filmed with the latest in “motion capture” technology. The director’s bold choice to leave actor Serkis and his gear untouched in several shots, though, could be confusing for some viewers.

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During an early confrontation with a tribe of belligerent humans, Draper sides with the Apes and proves his worth by shrugging off the invaders.  The Apes welcome Draper into their clan, where he immediately asserts his alpha male dominance by bedding Caesar’s Chimpanzee-wife, as well as many female orangutans.

Outside of Draper, though, the human characters are practically non-existent.  I think Felicity may have been in the movie, but I’m not sure.  I wasn’t really paying attention.

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