Review: Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

As I left the theater after watching Rise of the Planet of the Apes, my mind was working hard. There was something about the film that remained unexplained, some undefined plot hole that overshadowed an otherwise wonderful movie. I just couldn’t think of what it was. Then my friend turned to me and asked me this question:

“Man, why does Draco hate monkeys so much?”

That was it! What the hell was wrong with Draco? Every time Tom Felton‘s character appeared on screen, the film took an unnecessarily dark turn. It was like a grim version of Annie, except that Miss Hannigan was a hormonal boy and the orphans were apes (which is the plot of my next Annie-inspired fan-made musical, It’s a Hard Ape Life). Tom Felton’s Ratched-like character spent every on-screen moment either antagonizing the apes (and one particularly entertaining orangutan) or showing some of his unnamed friends how awesome he looks when he commits acts of animal cruelty.

Tom Felton in Rise of the Planet of the Apes via

What made this character—named Dodge, for some reason—particularly troubling, though, was that he had no reason to dislike apes. At no point in the film is the audience introduced to some dark backstory or an emotional disorder that would help explain Dodge’s aggressive anti-primate behavior. Instead, the audience is left to assume that Dodge is a genuinely and unnecessarily awful human being. At least Draco Malfoy could blame his parents…and Voldemort. Dodge can only blame himself. Get him, PETA.

Reservoir Dogs (1992) and Steve Buscemi


If you’re looking for a movie about well-dressed, foul-mouthed gangsters who tell tasteless jokes and spend great amounts of time debating the finer sociological aspect of tipping at restaurants, Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs is the movie for you. It is a simple, mobster-style movie peppered with flashbacks and gunfire. Though the plot is coated with mystery, the film plays more like a character-drama, chronicling some important moments in the lives of a few complicated individuals.

Oh, and congratulations, Steve Buscemi.


Congratulations, Steve BuscemiReservoir Dogs highlights the crazy antics of one of Buscemi’s most successful characters. In this case, “successful” refers not to the critics’ responses to Buscemi’s character but to the character’s relative success in the actual events that occur during the course of the movie. This relative success is celebration-worthy because Buscemi’s characters don’t often succeed. A Buscemi-played character is likely to become mentally unstable, mangled, or dead. Let’s look at some of Steve Buscemi’s characters:

  • Carl Showalter, Fargo (1996). A hot-tempered crook whose deranged mind has trouble processing changes to well-made plans. Deceased.
  • Rockhound, Armageddon (1998). A bizarre genius who shows no respect for the seriousness of working on an asteroid. Mentally unstable.
  • Donny KerabatsosThe Big Lebowski (1998). A curious pushover who suffers through verbal abuse and unprovoked hostility without complaint. Deceased.
  • James McCord, The Island (2005). A helpful techie whose philanthropic spirit doesn’t get to see the second half of the movie. Deceased.
  • Wiley, Grown Ups (2010). An overgrown child whose friends have little respect for his physical well-being. Mangled.

And that is just a sample. Sure, there are exceptions to this trend, but the already small list of anomalies is saturated with relatively unlikable characters like Randall Boggs from Monsters, Inc., Garland Greene from Con Air, and Clint Fitzer from I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry.

Of course, given the release dates of these movies, it is possible that Buscemi perfected his oddball character type after playing Mr. Pink in Reservoir Dogs. But, still, it’s comforting to know that at least a couple of Steve Buscemi’s characters had relative success in their respective universes. And it is relative success: Mr. Pink probably died.

But, of course, all of this is a testament to Buscemi’s artistic skill. His ability to consistently provide moviegoers with compelling and often comedic weirdos/sociopaths is unparalleled. Thank you, Steve Buscemi, and congratulations.