As mentioned in yesterday's entry, I went to see Dawn of the Planet of the Apes last night. I liked it just fine, it performed as advertised, and had some solid special effects. Sadly, it lacked any sort of surprise, the ending was more of a non-ending, and it was tough to really know who you were supposed to be emotionally invested in. For all the hype the movie got, I didn't see why it ranked at 95% while Transformers IV was at 19%. They were both essentially the same movie.
The reason I'm writing today's entry, though, is that the movie made me realize something. Either I'm getting smarter, or movies are getting too predictable. As the title suggests, either the movies are a lot smaller, or I'm getting bigger. The biggest example of this was halfway through Dawn when Koba, the "mean" ape, shoots Caesar (the lead ape), who falls to his death. Koba then frames a human for the assassination of Caesar in order to rally the apes behind him, and start a war with the humans. Shocking! And then, about 20 minutes later, we find out that...Caesar wasn't actually dead! He was just wounded and, after regaining his strength, he fights Koba and takes back control of the ApeLand (or whatever they're calling it).
That would have been a fine plot twist...if anyone had believed it for more than half a second. The moment Caesar is shot and "falls to his death", its immediately clear that he's not really dead. Not enough music is put into, not enough lines are dedicated to the end of this character, and not enough blood is shown on camera. My mental reaction can best described as "Woah......ait a minute..... nope." Of course, this wasn't the first movie to do this. In the past decade, fake deaths have become so popular that they're basically expected now. Thor 2, X-Men 2, Captain America, Captain America 2, Iron Man 3, Star Trek: Into Darkness, The Wolverine...and many many more involved quick fake-out deaths that are pretty transparent and have now cheapened the one go-to plot twist that still remained. (I realize those are mostly Marvel movies, but there's other examples too). Even The Lord of the Rings has a fake death! (though to be fair, it was written in the 1950's so it's likely exempt from the modern trend).
So the question remains: are we getting smarter, or are movies getting dumber? I'm not really sure, but it's clear that these trends can only continue for so long. Eventually everyone else jumps on board and ruins it. (and yes, this is not just for movie-people but in any field.) The trick is to pick out the value without using the exact conventions, otherwise you're just going to be a pale repetition of something else. As for me, aside from Frank Underwood taking a trip to a subway station, I haven't been surprised by anything in media for a long time. Hopefully they come up with a new trend soon because I really don't want to see Judi Dench come back to life in James Bond 23: Twice is Two Much.