"Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: The Official Movie Novelization" Book Review
Written by Michel Sabourin
Published by Titan Books
Written by Alex Irvine
2014, 320 pages, Fiction
Released on July 15, 2014
I was introduced to the mythology of the Planet of the Apes series as a young child. Watching Charlton Heston swagger and gravel his way through that movie was a revelation for me. And, of course, that ending... It was one of the first twist endings I had ever seen and one of the first true jaw-dropping moments in my cinematic life. I instantly fell in love with its alternate reality mythos and that of the four sequels, which even at their cheesiest easily surpasses all that is wrong with the Tim Burton reboot, but the less said about that, the better.
So after the series was Burtoned and they announced a prequel reboot, I approached it with extreme trepidation. However, all that worry was for nothing because that movie is incredible and faithful to the original while breaking new ground and actually adding to the legend in a respectful way.
I tell you all that to tell you this: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was one of my more hotly anticipated movies of the year, and I was unable to see it despite my best intentions, which was, to say the least, a bummer. Then, like a gift from the heavens, the novelization appeared in my mailbox and all was right in the world.
Author Alex Irvine had a tough road to navigate in successfully adapting the movie to book form in that most of the movie involves non-spoken dialog on behalf of the titular apes. It doesn't lend itself naturally to conversational writing. Irvine handles that bumpy road sublimely, translating the ape sign language smoothly and adding back the thoughts and emotions of the characters without crossing into maudlin verbiage and ham-handed emotional manipulations. He deftly fills in the moments that would otherwise be easily conveyed visually in film with a soft touch, never broaching the bounds of being too literal in his descriptions. This allows the reader to sort of fill in the blanks for themselves, in turn making the reading a more enjoyable experience. What Dawn of the Planet of the Apes has managed to do is make me even more excited to buy the Blu-ray as soon as it's available.
Dawn is a gripping, emotionally driven tale of the division between those who can let go and move on with living and those who hold on to their fear and anger and let their emotions drive their every thought and action. This plays out eloquently, highlighting the good and the bad in both societies, ape and human. It's a rare tale that has both heroes and villains that are both heroes and villains in their own way. In creating characters that are doing what they honestly think is right, it makes them less evil and more human (even if they aren't). Even the bad guys aren't bad guys, just misguided and maybe ignorant at worst.
If you are a fan of the Apes universe, I highly recommend this book. Even if you've already seen the movie, the book can allow for a greater depth of scope and add to your experience.