In 1968, science fiction cinema history was revolutionized with the release of “Planet of the Apes”, based on the book “La Planète des singes”. It brought us thought-provoking themes and makeup effects that are impressive even to this day. In the following years, the series had four mediocre sequels and a really bad remake,ultimately causing the decline of the series. Then, in 2011, the “Planet of the Apes” series came back in a big way with “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”. Instead of a massive story, “Rise” told something more intimate. It focused on one ape, Caesar, and all of his pathos. It featured a captivating ,and maybe even Oscar-worthy, motion-capture performance from Andy Serkis. The film blew the viewing public away. Now, after a director change, a sequel has come out. “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” has emerged as the next film in this epic series.
But the question that stands is whether or not this film is a worthy sequel to its outstanding predecessors. The answer is…yes. “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” matches the deep emotions of “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”, then exceeds it with spectacle. The film is beautifully directed by Matt Reeves of “Cloverfield” fame. The action sequences are smooth and polished(I mean,who doesn’t love monkeys on horses with machine guns). Yet, this movie works best in the quiet moments. Nuanced emotion starts to arise in the more intimate scenes of the movie. One that comes to mind is a scene where the human characters stumble upon an abandoned gas station that has gained electricity. There is very little dialogue. The scene is just a group of humans, celebrating. It comes across as genuine.
The real drama, on the other hand, comes from the apes. Matt Reeves made the right decision to keep the focus of the movie on the apes. They are the ones who make the story actually have weight. Andy Serkis gives his most realized and nuanced performance in this film. In this, Caesar is filled with family morals and obligations as leader that was not shown in the first film. He is a deeper character, and the story reflects it. Serkis plays the role in a brilliant and regal way. This film gives Andy Serkis another role to add to a running list of roles that deserve Oscars. There is another major standout performance in this film in the form of Toby Kebbell. He plays Koba in this movie to great extent. Koba is a power-hungry, violent psychopath. The movie does a great job to make you hate him. Yet, you can’t stop thinking about where he came from. In the first film, he was a subject of many animal tests, giving him his many scars. He never saw the kindness of humans, causing him to want to kill them. His motives were not out of line. The character just goes too far to accomplish them.
The special effects were amazing in this movie. Weta Digital keeps getting better with every movie they work on. In this project, each and every hair on every single one of the apes come across as lifelike. There was never a time when I thought an ape looked too much like a computer-generated thing. They looked like real apes. Overall, my problems with this movie were few. I felt that there was too much focus on the human story. There wasn’t much, but there were just times where I felt that the human story was dragging a bit. The human story was still well-done. The ape story was just more interesting and captivating, making it the more captivating storyline.
This is the best movie to see right now. It is beautifully directed and acted. The writing is tense and dramatic. The emotions are genuine. It’s just a damn good action film in a summer with a lot of great movies. I’ve seen the movie twice now, and I may see it even more. Rating: 4½ stars Photos courtesy of 20th Century Fox (c)2014