Monday, 9 February 2015

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2014: Toby Kebbell in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Toby Kebbell did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Koba in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a mostly effective film about the conflict that arises between the super intelligent Apes after they come into contact with a group of humans who survived a devastating plague. The film's biggest weakness is that the human characters almost feel like an afterthought.

Toby Kebbell plays one of the apes, Koba, who still holds the scars given to him due to animal testing by humans. Just to recap on motion capture performances, actor's effort should not be waved away, but neither should the animators as there is some amplification involved. Well back to Kebbell's performance which technically fits right in with all of the Apes who are uniformly good in portraying the ape mannerisms of the characters, and they certainly do a great job of making the computer generated imagery feel more than just that anyways. They come across as characters, and not just merely special effects which is quite important. Kebbell has the meatiest ape role next to the Ape leader Caesar (Andy Serkis), as Koba, at first, acts a close confidant of Caesar's. This does not last long though once the human show up to utilize a dam in the Apes' territory in order to regain power. The idea of any sort of peace does not sit well with Koba who still holds a grudge against the humans.

Kebbell does well to bring a bit depth to Koba in the early moments where he voices his discontent with Caesar. It is a vicious anger to be sure that Kebbell expresses in Koba towards the humans, but he conveys how at least the seed was planted through the pain that came from his mistreatment. Kebbell actually has a bit of challenge presented to him in that Koba probably has the most actual spoken lines out of any of the apes. An ape speaking could come off quite silly but that's not the case with Kebbell's delivery. He gives the voice the needed animalistic intensity, while still having a clarity that feels right for Koba. Koba ends up being the antagonist of the film as Caesar attempts to make peace with the humans while Koba purposefully attempts to drum up conflict with the humans. The film though kinda drops any idea of Koba being a potentially sympathetic villain, and instead takes the approach of being basically a crazed mad ape who seems more interested in becoming the dictator of the apes than simply getting revenge against the humans.

Koba gets to run wild once the film's action begins. Koba has some rather memorable moments although a few of them do have much more to do with the film's direction, than really Kebbell's performance such as Koba's riding a horse through fire while firing a machine gun. Kebbell though does have one major moment for himself though when Koba steals a gun from two drunken idiot humans (who for some reasons were left in charge of the guns). Kebbell is rather entertaining in portraying the goofy antics Koba uses to disarm the men, both metaphorically and literally, making it appropriately disconcerting when he brings back to his deadly stare as he dispatches both of the men. That's a particularly effective scene and Koba makes for a menacing as well as enjoyable villain, due to just how insane Koba becomes. Kebbell's work certainly contributes to this greatly with his manner and particularly that voice of his. This is a good performance by Toby Kebbell, and I certainly have no complaints. I must admit I'm not nearly as passionate about this performance as many seem to be.

10 comments:

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

I still stand by my opinion he was totally awesome and deserves a 5.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

Sorry Louis but I think you missed my question on the Armitage post, why the raised scores for Ronan, Brody and Dafoe in THE?

Matt Mustin said...

I pretty much agree with this. Actually, the more I think about this movie, the less I like everything about it other than the effects, and I vastly prefer Rise.

Louis Morgan said...

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar:

Ronan because I really did not have a problem with her performance even though I did not love her performance. Brody because I did think he was fairly funny as the constantly angry guy, although certainly a far cry from say Ralph Fiennes in In Bruges, and Dafoe because he manages to be pretty funny while still being an intimidating presence.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

@Matt: Really? Because I thought this was a MAJOR step up from the mediocrity of rise.

Michael McCarthy said...

:( I think there were some fascinating aspects to this performance that you didn't mention. For one thing, he starts out as Caesar's close friend and he's great at portraying the respect he does have for Caesar. I don't think his insanity is one dimensional, it came from the fact that he felt betrayed by the one other being he thought he could trust.

Wendell Ottley said...

I thought both Kebbell and Serkis were excellent in their roles. I wouldn't have minded one bit if they received Oscar nods. Excellent post.

Psifonian said...

Meh. I preferred Nick Thurston, the actor who played Blue Eyes, over Kebbell.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Yeah, what Michael said.

Michael Patison said...

Daniel: I would like to add myself to a battle.

Michael P v. Academy dating rules for the Foreign Language Film category.

I know this is a moot point as it has been made here numerous times, but that has been mostly about domestic/English-language films, such as Casablanca.

My issue is that the category deadlines for Foreign Language Film is stupid and pointless (I understand it takes time to see even just the shortlisted films, but then why can't the people who shortlisted pick the nominees too?). If I'm not mistaken, it requires the film to have been released before October 1st in the country. Why not anytime before December 31st? Why not require submission by November 15th as long as the submission is slated for release on 12/31? If not actually released, they'd obviously be disqualified, but that shouldn't be an issue because films slated for release little more than a month beforehand should already be finished, or at least in the very final stages of post-production.

Anyway, my major issue is that a film like Ida, which is superb and gorgeously shot (wholly deserving of its cinematography nomination because it's black and white, unlike Nebraska), was released in Poland, its submitter (and co-production country with Denmark), in early September. That's ridiculous. Also, how does a film like Cinema Paradiso, which received a 1988 Italian release, become eligible in 1990?