Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – Film Review
Cast: Jason Clarke, Andy Serkis, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Toby Kebbell
Directors: Matt Reeves
Synopsis: Ten years after the events of the first film as humanity has been devastated by the virus. The colony of Apes, led by Caesar are prospering . However when a last batch of surviving humans resurface, tension resurfaces and it is poised to erupt into a war to establish control over the planet.
Review: Sequels, seemingly an ever present in the world of Hollywood and film making. Sometimes, they come along and disappoint, failing to top its predecessor, or nothing more than a cash grab. Yet when a sequel takes the first film and tops it, in many ways, it is something to be admired. 2014 showed itself to be the year of remarkable sequels. With the Matt Reeves directed Dawn, a sequel to 2011’s Rise, we continue that great sequel trend with a beautifully directed and riveting story that will ensure that the Planet of The Apes franchise is not going anywhere any time soon.
With humanity obliterated in the wake of the Simian virus that was unleashed at the end of Rise, Caesar, once again brilliantly motion captured by Andy Serkis, and his crew of apes have their spot where they live. With a whole community established, it is enthralling to watch the apes interact with each other. They have their own language and their population is thriving. There are no humans about (or so they think) and all is right in the ape world. They live, and they prosper. This is, until a group of humans come along looking for something to help their population return to normality. Instantaneously, conflict threatens to break out once more between the two factions amid uneasy truces. Distrust is brewing in the ranks of both camps and it threatens to completely boil over into all out war as there are those on both sides who simply do not trust the other. In some cases, these reasons are clear and in others, they are not.
Through the marvel of motion capture realised by WETA Digital, it is Andy Serkis in the role of Caesar who completely steals the show once again. His performance is incredible to watch, it is almost as if it is not brilliant computer generated imagery and is actually a real life ape communicating with the humans. He is the glue that binds the ape community together and he is the star of the show. The motion capture technology looks astoundingly for all of the ape community, with different actors playing different apes, the different personalities of all of the apes shine through. Yet Caesar’s not the only ape who takes the limelight, the more hostile angry Koba, portrayed by Toby Kebbell is an ape on a mission, to eradicate humanity. He is vicious and angry, and is determined to gain the revenge on the humans. The computer generated imagery is flawless and it is a strong contender to scoop some awards for its breathtaking visuals in this year’s awards season. With great apes also come some interesting human characters, namely Malcolm (Jason Clarke) and Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) also come into conflict about what to do with the Apes. One wants peace, the other wants war, and it threatens to boil over at any given moment.
The action in this film is taken up a notch from the first movie, with some enthralling battle scenes. 2014 offered some sweet action scenes but some of the battles in this sequel are some of the stand out moments of cinema in 2014. As the title poster illustrates, apes on horses is a sample of this brilliance. Under Matt Reeves’ masterful direction, Dawn provides a compelling and somewhat moving story about a fight to survive, mixed with compassion and a desire for both species to co-exist, whilst some factions of both communities strive for supremacy over the other. With a third film in the works, once again directed by Reeves and scheduled to be released in 2017, more Apes goodness will be on the way.
With incredible visuals, interesting human characters and even more interesting apes, combined with a really well told and interesting story, this is a arguably the best entry of the revitalised Apes franchise, and with Reeves returning for a third outing, the stage is set for something special.