Movie Review: ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’

8/10

Having not initially been interested in the newest reboot of Boulle’s novel Planet of the Apes due to the adamant belief I would not enjoy them, I was introduced under duress by my partner to Wyatt’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes a few days before seeing Reeve’s sequel Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and I am glad that I did see both.

With 10 years having passed since the Ape Rebellion, Caesar and his genetically enhanced ‘family’ are thriving, they have created their own community and secluded themselves within the redwoods of Muir Woods Park whereas human life is struggling to exist, slowly declining in numbers due to the Simian flu (a virus created from the same chemical that gave Caesar his increased intellect). With some survivors of the virus having based themselves in San Francisco, they are desperate for electricity and the only source is a hydroelectric dam in the forest within the ape colony’s territory. Only one family believe Caesar can be negotiated to allow them access to the dam rather than going to war, however, Caesar’s compassion and trust for humanity causes conflict between him and one of his own kind; Koba who suffered years of abuse by the hands of humans. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes presents Caesar’s struggles, as ruler of the apes, to prevent a war between the ape colony and the humans.

A great sense of detail is portrayed within the movie which makes the characters that much more believable; something that is difficult to accomplish when dealing with science fiction as a whole. Furthermore, the appearance of a dishevelled and forest-strewn San Francisco creates a dark yet spectacular apocalyptic feel to the film. Andy Serkis’ return as Ceasar is as strong and as powerful as before; it is easy to forget that Caesar is a chimpanzee as his movements and attitude create a form of juxtaposition between animal and man. Although some actors such as James Franco do not return in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes other famous names have been brought in such as Gary Oldman who plays Dreyfus the community’s authority figure; a similar character to his role as Commissioner Gordon in Nolan’s Batman Trilogy.

Unlike its preceding film, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes explores themes of trust and loyalty as well as adding to the relationship between man and ape by complicating the difference between the two. Rather than suggest that humanity is entirely to blame for the inevitable war between the humans and the apes, the film begins to question whether war is purely a human concept as both sides have characters that want to go to war and those that are attempting to prevent it. With this in mind, Reeve’s sci-fi struggle for supremacy movie adds to Rise of the Planet of the Apes by including themes that were barely touched upon in its prequel as well as continuing themes such as family. It therefore should be seen as a continuation of ideas and themes in which the next in the franchise will hopefully deliver.

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Not just Pulp: A Comic Book Conundrum

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Comic books. Just the words bring to mind an image of a socially inept spotty teenager with too much time on his hands. Seen as a nerdy pastime (just look at The Big Bang Theory) comic books and graphic novels alike have both been misjudged and undervalued by the everyday public. There is more to them than meets the eye than simply the out-dated assumption that they are for kids. In fact, quite a vast array of graphic novels portray within them images I certainly wouldn’t want my kids exposed to due to its mature material. They are not something to scoff at simply because of the stereotypical and ultimately negative images society has assigned onto comic book readers. After all, leading bookshops such as Waterstones are expanding the number of shelves they allocate for graphic novels in their stores so surely they must see something in them that others do not.

Graphic novels have recently become integrated into popular culture than you might have originally guessed. Obviously they have been used as the core material for an abundance of movies such as the Batman and Spiderman film franchises. Yet, comic books have permeated into filmdom much more than these frankly obvious examples. How many people knew that V for Vendetta, Sin City, Constantine as well as 300 were all adapted for the big screen from graphic novels? These adaptations were created because their original media platform were thought to be worthy of captivating a much larger audience in the cinema. Additionally, comic books are also used in some cases to continue already aired TV programmes that were extremely popular but too expensive to screen continuously; two examples of this is Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which began publishing ‘seasons’ through graphic novel format after the season 7 finale on television, and another cult television series Farscape which has so far released 8 graphic novel volumes since 2003. Additionally there have been some examples where films have also been adapted into comic book format such as the Star Wars franchise; however there are very few compared to television adaptations.

Graphic novels are also used because they can express views on key social issues more easily than other forms of literature due to the blurred lines they draw between word and image. Comic books have already been used to discuss mental illness (Batman), anarchy (V for Vendetta) and even environmental issues as seen in Swamp Thing just to name three. A key figure in this approach to using graphic novels as a conduit to discuss important subjects that were originally thought as too complex for comics is Alan Moore. Moore is thought to have helped add a greater respect for the medium by evolving them out of the simple pulp comics of the 1950’s and into mediums which stand on their own due to their social critique.

Just as comics have evolved from simple pulp, so has literature. It is a fluid concept that constantly changes over time. Arguably graphic novels are simply the next evolutionary step of literature; moving contemporary texts away from the post-modern writing style. What other alternative can literature make after post-modernism which is defined as a style that attempts to be different than any other form of literary movement that has preceded it? Additionally, classic texts such as Brontë’s Pride and Prejudice have been converted into graphic novels suggesting an attempt to ‘modernise’ old classics. Other popular texts which are not renowned for being classics such as Meyer’s Twilight saga have also been converted into comic book format, again suggesting a leap towards a future where graphic novels are viewed as a key form of literature rather than a form of low art only geeks and adolescent boys read. Proving that comic books are NOT just for kids!

Feeling as empty as my Closet: ‘Outing’ Post-Coming out Depression

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One subject that exists in the shadows of publicised LGBT issues is post-coming out depression. Perhaps, just like any other form of depression, it is thought that, by simply accepting its existence tempts the Gods to inflict you with it like a curse. However, the truth is with nearly a fifth of adults in the UK suffering from some form of anxiety or depression, it is a common mental illness that can be helped if we stop the stigma that is put upon it. If we did, the depression some feel after coming out might be better known.

It is always suggested by everyone that by coming out to your friends, family and colleagues you will feel a huge weight lifted off your shoulders and I do not disagree with that but nobody mentions how you might also feel after. Coming out is a big change as well as an important writ of passage so it would be glib to suggest people won’t feel a little odd afterwards and this ‘oddness’ might cause them to become depressed. I for one naively believed that by coming out, my life would alter completely; I believed that I would instantly find a man with a body that would make Adonis jealous, I’d automatically be more funny, witty and confident in myself and I would be hosting wild soirees surrounded by other immediate gay and lesbian friends. Obviously this was not the case.

Despite the amazing support I received from everyone I told, I felt like my life was lacking something. Nothing had drastically changed and life continued the way it always had other than the sense of freedom I had gained from escaping the closet door. Yet, it was this freedom that had made me depressed. By being honest about my sexuality I had opened up the flood gates into a much more authentic yet vulnerable world that felt too vast compared to the safe bubble I had now physically popped with three words; ‘I like guys’. Since my expectations of coming out had been too high I started to see myself as a failure.  I entered a rather distressing state which led me to a place I would not wish upon anyone. I could not understand why, after coming out, I was still single. I had significantly altered my life yet still felt alone. Luckily, I found help before it was too late but it is saddening to know that others have taken their own lives because of the same problem.

I cannot express how important it is to know that although coming out is a major stepping stone to a better future for homosexuals and bisexuals; it is not an automatic change. Although not everyone will suffer from post-coming out depression, there is a small chance that someone will. Since coming out is such a big deal, after it has happened, there is a void where so much worry and stress had been and it can be filled with a sense of nothingness. You are not alone, let things come at their own time and the emptiness of closet with you outside it will fill once more with a sense of belonging and happiness as you adapt to your new surroundings as an openly gay man or woman. It might not lead to a new you but an honest you.