Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Director: Matt Reeves
Cast Headliners: Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Toby Kebbell, Keri Russell
Original Release Date: July 11th , 2014
The original Planet of the Apes is an great film with deep insight into the way different groups treat and subjugate others, which made sense being that it released in the 1970’s, but was told through a lens of monkey overlords. Aside from sequels of varying quality there was a alright but underperforming remake by Tim Burton the franchise had remained dormant. 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes directed by Rupert Wyatt was an incredible re-restart to the world of Apes, and showed a fascinating and emotional new beginning to this world of super simians. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes follows up that film to a great result.
The film does not jump all the way to fully civilized apes just yet. It is set five years after the events of the last film. The world has been ravaged by the Simian flu and human civilization has collapsed. In this “post-ape-palyptic” world we are re-introduced to Caesar (played again by Andy Serkis) and his tribe of intelligent apes. Every single motion capture actor playing the apes deserves praise, especially Serkis. The visuals and effects on them are so good that they seem shockingly real. A large portion of the film takes place from Caeser and other ape’s perspectives. Sign language and subtitles are used with minimilstic visual story telling but it is never boring or hard to follow. The direction by Matt Reeves at the helm manages to make their story digestible and emotional. Although the ape society is at a not-much-more than Neanderthal level some deep politics and discussions take place. This time several of the apes talk in brief voiced English tones, but it makes sense and does not come off as cheesy even though they look like real animals. This is aided by the emotion of Serkis in his physical and vocal role, along with his peer Koba (played by Toby Kebbell) who has a ape performance right up there with Serkis’.
This dark world is also a tale of human survival. In the overgrown ruins of San Francisco a band of survivors exists still led by Dreyfus (Gary Oldman). Oldman is his usual charismatic self and turns out to be a horrible villain by the end. Dreyfus , after various events, sends a team including Malcolm (Jason Clarke) and his wife Ellie (Keri Russell) and their son Alexander (Kodi Smit-McPhee) and others. The performances by these are very solid as well. The film is as expected incredibly emotional; and the drama between these players is very heartfelt through acting and the lush musical score.
The film balances moments of quiet emotional contemplation with intense dramatic face-offs. The interaction and prejudice between the two species’ societies brilliantly unfolds to an epic action packed finale. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes has taken everything that made the first film great and improved on all of those areas. It’s the most thoughtful and introspective blockbuster of the summer, but yet it still manages to be one of the most exhilarating. 9.1 out of 10