Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Review

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) directed by Matt Reeves, written by Mark Bomback, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver. It stars Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Toby Kebbell, and Kodi Smit-McPhee.

Synopsis: Following on from the first instalment, this story begins in 2016. A viral-based drug known as ALZ-112 created in the Gen-Sys labs to initially cure Alzheimer’s has killed off the majority of the human population, but has had a significant impact on apes – thus providing them with incredible intelligence and potential. Caesar (the ape James Franco’s character Dr. Will Rodman took into his home and brought up in the first movie and played by Andy Serkis) leads a new generation of intelligent apes and has built a large community away from the very few humans left. The world is extremely different from where we left off and the progress the apes have made from the last time they were seen is astonishing. They have the ability to talk, and are able to ride horses among other things. After a group of humans stumble across the apes in their forest (with one of them accidentally shooting an ape), Caesar orders the humans to leave. These humans are led by Malcolm (Jason Clarke), his son Alexander (Kodi Smit-McPhee), his second wife Ellie (Keri Russell), Kemp (Enrique Murciano) and Carver (Kirk Acevedo) who is the shooter of the ape.

These humans are genetically immune to the virus which is why they have survived, and live in a guarded tower in San Francisco. Due to the humans running out of resources, their best way to gain power to help them connect with other possible survivors is from a hydroelectric dam in the ape’s territory. After Malcolm makes a deal with Caesar, he gives them three days to do what they need to do and then leave the ape territory. However, things become more complicated. Caesar’s second in command named Koba (Toby Kebbell) holds a grudge against humans due to being mistreated in the first movie. As a result, he is scarred for life and does not trust them.

Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) is the leader of the remaining survivors in San Francisco, and tells Malcolm that if he does not return after a few days, then they will be coming after him. Koba does everything in his power to manipulate the apes to attack Dreyfus’s survivors and cause a full scale war despite Caesar’s want for peace.

This is one of the best movies I have seen this year, and there are many reasons for this. Having watched the 2011 reboot a few days prior, the original was fresh in my mind for the latest offering. When I first saw it three years before, I remember being very impressed by the look of the apes, and how real they were. However, this is taken to a completely different level in this movie. The visuals are stunning, and you will be blown away with just how great the apes look. This was my initial perception mere minutes into the movie.

This new world is established perfectly, and the viewer is instantly immersed in the community Caesar and the apes have built for themselves. Caesar is a good leader with strong morals, and it is highly understandable as to why he is the leader. He has come a long way since we last saw him, and has clearly taken on board what he learned from being brought up by Will. Caesar also has a wife named Cornelia (Judy Greer) who has a new born baby at the beginning of the movie, and they also have a child named Blue Eyes (Nick Thurston) who is old enough to fight alongside Caesar. Andy Serkis is impressive once again as Caesar, and seems to be the go to guy when it comes to motion capture.

Jason Clarke is also impressive as Malcolm and is likeable enough throughout the story for the viewer to root for him. He builds a strong bond with Caesar reminiscent of Caesar and Will’s relationship. Gary Oldman’s performance is great as usual, and never disappoints in any of the roles he takes on. There is a very touching scene where Oldman’s character Dreyfus is able to view pictures of his deceased family which is extremely poignant. When he cries, it is really moving and a testament to his acting talents.

The writing and directing is also fantastic, and all of the characters are believable. Koba makes an effective antagonist, and is believable. His hatred for humans is understandable due to what he suffered at the hands of a minority of them, and his fight scenes with Caesar are impressive.

I urge anybody to see this because it really is fantastic. This will do very well at the box office, and I hope the third is just as good as this one.

By Robert Spence

 

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