Published by Titan Magazines
Being damn near 40 (as we say in my family) it’s been a while since I was filled with enough fanboy glee over a movie to purchase the affiliated souvenir magazine. There was a time when I didn’t give a thought to putting down the cash to grab this type of publication, so I could quell some of the anticipation of getting to see a soon-to-be-released blockbuster horror or sci-fi film. Even though Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is more on my “might see” list for this summer than my “must see” list, I’ve always found the classic Planet of the Apes to be one of those movies that I’ll stop and watch if I scroll past in on the TV. I was ready to see what this official movie souvenir magazine had to offer!
Readers are first given a history of the Planet of the Apes franchise, going back to its roots as a French novel. The writer of this piece, Jayne Nelson, gives some interesting facts about the book, and goes into more detail about the first movie. The four sequel films (Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Escape From the Planet of the Apes, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, and finally, Battle for the Planet of the Apes) are quickly summarized, as are the TV series (Planet of the Apes), the cartoon series (Return to the Planet of the Apes), and Tim Burton’s 2001 reimagining (Planet of the Apes). It concludes with a revisit of the ending to Rise of the Planet of the Apes, leading us directly to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.
While not a critique on the magazine, this seems to be the right place to mention that the naming conventions of this film series can be a little complex. It will never make sense to me that Rise came before Dawn, and I’d need some type of visual aid if I were ever trying to discuss the original quintet with a group of people.
With that said, thumbs up to this trip through the ages and iterations of Planet of the Apes. I learned that Rod Serling adapted the script from the original novel, which finally explains to me why the twist ending still feels like it came right out of The Twilight Zone.
This segment is followed by an article about Matt Reeves, who takes the director’s chair over from Rise’s Rupert Wyatt. Reeves discusses his role in setting the story and tone for this film and the motivation of some of the main apes. This will answer questions some viewers may have about why Dawn tells this specific story, when, like most sequels, there were many different angles to approach this follow up from.
The magazine then goes on to cover the apes, and the stars that play them. This part talks at length about the motion capture effects of the production. If you enjoy people making faces like primates, this part is for you. What stood out as a surprise for me was that after lengthy articles with great quotes from Andy Serkis (Caesar) and Tony Kebbell (Koba), Judy Greer is given a short, one-page article, and the only photo is of her character, Cornelia. Greer is incredibly funny. She also had a Planet of the Apes wedding! Who is the person reading this magazine that doesn’t want to know about that?
One of the ape actors has a very interesting perspective on the film. Terry Notary, in addition to playing Rocket, also served as the film’s stunt coordinator and movement choreographer. Seeing one movie from three different roles gave Notary’s comments a different feel from the other actors. His coaching tips on how to get people to move more like apes made this my favorite of the ape features.
After a look back at Rise with director Rupert Wyatt, we move into features about the human characters of the movie and the actors who play them. Focus then shifts to the production team, with articles about the writer, the visual effects supervisors, costuming, props, and other crew members. I’ll assume that you’d need to be a fan to pick up this magazine to start with but some of these articles will separate the people who like the franchise from the people who love the franchise. There’s even a quiz to help quantify your fandom!
Tucked away in this part of the magazine, I found another gem of knowledge, “History’s 10 Deadliest Pandemics.” This is included because it plays off of the Simian Flu infection that starts to spread at the end of Rise It’s the effects of this outbreak which set the scene for the struggling human population in Dawn.
If my decision to see Dawn was based solely on the images of the apes from the film and the concept art presented here, it would be a resounding “Yes!” The apes look simply incredible and not only real, but also strangely human. In close up portraits, you can see details like scars and fine hairs on the face. Will this level of realism carry over to how the apes move and look on the screen? We’ll see soon enough. The flip side of this goes back to the motion capture photos, which are sprinkled throughout the magazine without any restraint. I would like to have seen these paired more often with the finished shot from the film. And, if I may bring it up again, where the hell are the Judy Greer photos?
Reading from cover to cover, my interest started to wane towards the end. I’d prefer to browse through it, picking the features that caught my eye, or topics that are relevant to me, but I find the $14.99 price tag high for that purpose. I can see this being a hit with cinephiles that like the Apes franchise, and want to know details of production. It should also prove popular with people that see this magazine as a piece of Ape memorabilia For that crowd, who will read it (or perhaps not read it, to avoid spine creases) bag and board it, then put it on a shelf with their mint on card Dr. Zaius action figure, it’s a worthwhile buy.