Movie Review: “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” – (R)Evolution!

Written by Jesse Gelinas July 14, 2014

"Dawn of the Planet of the Apes"

I’m not sure when exactly movie audiences stopped rooting for our own species. It might’ve been when we tried to take all the Na’vi’s special rocks from under their tree. It may have even been way back when we chained up King Kong for the world to see. Whatever it was that finally broke the camel’s back, it lead to a new age of filmmaking where humans… are the bad guys! And it’s been pretty damn awesome. “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” continues this trend of humans shooting themselves in the foot and getting taken to the woodshed by their own creations.

“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” picks up ten years after “Rise”. The Simian Flu has wiped out most of the world’s humans, and the apes of the Redwood Forest are thriving. They’ve got a giant treehouse community, and Caesar (Andy Serkis) has started a family with his mate. When a group of humans arrive from the city trying to fix a dam and restore power conflict ensues. With the humans hesitant to cooperate with apes, and Koba (Caesar’s right-hand chimp) trying to instill his hate for humans in his fellow apes, war is on the horizon.

“Home. Family. Future.”

“Dawn” is a lot more action-oriented than “Rise”. This actually works in its favour because the action is pretty great. There’s some great battle scenes and a couple of pretty brutal ape fights peppered in, and the effects are always great. What actually surprised me was the lack of human content. The gratuitous human scenes in “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” was the weakest aspect of the first film. In “Dawn”, there are very few human-only scenes. The human actors are solid enough. Jason Clarke is great and I hope we see him in more leading roles. Gary Oldman is Gary Oldman, ’nuff said. But their roles are appropriately limited. This keeps the focus on Caesar and his family, where it should be. Everything works to set up what will likely be a “final war” type sequel to cap off (hopefully) the franchise.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Caesar and Malcolm

Andy Serkis deserves a mountain of praise for this one. Most of you will know him as Gollum from “LotR” and “The Hobbit”, but his motion capture work extends far beyond that. Reprising his role as Caesar, Serkis is far and away the star of the film. Everything about his performance helps bring Caesar to life and make him a lifelike character that we can relate to and root for. The work of the animators has to be acknowledged as well. The level of detail in not only Caesar, but Koba and all the other apes of the forest is astounding, some of the best I’ve ever seen. There are moments in the film where you can forget you’re watching CGI characters.

“War has already begun.”

“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” doesn’t break any new ground for blockbusters, revolution films, or sci-fi in general. But it does execute its story and characters with pinpoint precision that makes it one of the best films of the year already. With a leading “man” with less than a hundred words of dialogue throguhout, everything about the film has to be efficient, and it is. Caesar is a fantastically rendered (emotionally and digital) character that you just enjoy engaging with. “Planet of the Apes” is a longstanding franchise that has seen its ups and downs. But now, going forward, “Dawn” sets a new bar for what this series can be, and gives high hopes for a solid follow-up and conclusion to Caesar’s saga.

My Rating: 8.5/10

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

About Jesse Gelinas

After years attempting to escape the Matrix, Jesse has accepted his fate as a writer and Senior Editor. Now that's he finished with his film degree, it gives him something to do while waiting for the machines to get careless.

Browse Archived Articles by

No Comments

There are currently no comments on Movie Review: “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” – (R)Evolution!. Perhaps you would like to add one of your own?

Leave a Comment