Yesterday I went to see the new Planet of the Apes movie at one of those new AMC theaters with the leather recliners and seating charts, and while I dig the cozy seats, the seating arrangement sort of baffles me. I've talked to a number of people who have had bad experiences with this new system (if you're unfamiliar, the deal is that when you buy your ticket, you select where you want to sit in the auditorium), and now you can count me in, too. I picked a seat near the front, but when I got there, almost the entire row, including my seat, was occupied by some group. Because they were clearly a party, I simply opted for one of the empty seats at the end of the row. The film begin and all was well, but a few minutes in a family of three comes in and claims my seat, and rightfully so. The theatre was dark and since the movie had already started I definitely wasn't going to awkwardly shuffle down the full row and make someone leave so I could have my seat. Instead I started looking around for an empty spot, but because the recliners have cut the seating capacity in half, there wasn't one. Luckily at the bottom there was an empty handicapped seat, but it all goes to show that this system really is problematic, especially during the summer season with multiplexes are pretty packed.
The film itself, though, was fantastic, up there with the latest X-Men as the best of this year's crop of summer blockbusters. I'll always be there for a Planet of the Apes movie, but this really exceeded my expectations in nearly every way. It's grittier and more primal in its themes than 2011's Rise of the Planet of the Apes, less scientific and more humanistic. While the 2011 version at times felt as though it had post-human undertones, Dawn sets the apes and humans on a more level playing field, both to suggest that humanity, even in its most marginalized state, won't let its fuse run out, and that the apes are still at least several sequels aways from reaching their status from the 1968 original.