Title – Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)
Director – Matt Reeves (Cloverfield)
Cast – Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Toby Kebbell, Kerri Russell, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Gary Oldman
Plot – Set 10 years after the events of Rise, Dawn picks up the story with the Ape population led by Caesar (Serkis) living out a peaceful existence in the wild as humans the world over fall to the airborne virus unleashed upon the planet. This peaceful existence of the Apes is threatened however when a group of human survivors stumble upon their home, setting in motion a tense relationship that could lead to all-out war between desperate humans and the increasingly developed Apes.
“Apes together strong”
Review by Eddie on 14/07/2014
It’s strange in many ways yet satisfying in an industry sense that perhaps for the first or at least most noticeable time in movie history we have a film in which CGI creations well and truly overrule all human counterparts, for in Matt Reeves perfectly constructed follow up to Rupert Wyatt’s well-loved predecessor Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes use of computer wizardry, motion capture technology and motion capture performances culminate in what could be the year’s best Blockbuster.
In a film filled to the brim with memorable scenes and primate characters, Dawn’s cherry on it’s very nice top sitting alongside its stunning CGI by the ever amazing Weta group is the outstanding performance by Andy Serkis as Caesar, leader of the apes and most advanced of all the hairy kind. Serkis as Caesar is the perfect moulding of character, actor and technology, with Caesar now arguably the greatest ever mo-cap creation right up there with Serkis’s other creations Gollum, King Kong and yes even those ever blue Navi’s in Cameron’s money making machine Avatar. From the close up opening through to the films satisfying conclusion, Caesar (along with his compatriots including the equally praiseworthy Toby Kebbel as Caesar’s right hand man Koba) feels completely real, an ape that feels fear, longs for love and fights for family, Caesar is for all sakes and purposes real within this film and real to the audience. While Serkis as Caesar and the apes that follow are reason enough to venture out to the multiplex and catch Dawn it all would have all amounted to nothing if it were not for Reeve’s steady hand behind the camera and the story of this newly envisioned Apes universe joining the quality party.
Reeves has been working in the industry for some time now, making his debut in 1996 as a feature length director yet not reaching his potential until found footage Sci-Fi Cloverfield made a splash in 2008. On the back of that JJ Abrams led production and following on from the underappreciated horror Let Me In, Reeves here shows a coming of age as director with an often inspired touch behind camera leading to some of the year’s most impressively staged set pieces. Moments within the film such as the Ape’s charge on the human stronghold or smaller tense moments such as Malcolm (played by Australian Jason Clarke) venturing into building overrun by some angry apes highlighting that fact that Reeves is indeed the man to take this franchise forward. While Reeves and his Ape chargers are all quite faultless there is no questioning that the film overall is brought back a peg or to by some pretty cookie cutter human participants.
Led by the aforementioned Clarke as family man Malcolm the humans struggle to remain relevant in the picture that dedicates far for more effort into the growing of the Ape legion. While Clarke is in no way bad, his reluctant hero Malcolm is far from the human lead the picture needed to jump into near perfect Blockbuster fare. With supports from the underused Kodi Smit-McPhee (the Australian youngster now well and truly grown up) as Malcolm’s son Alexander, the lame Kerri Russell as token love interest Ellie and the increasingly over the top and voice raising Gary Oldman as human leader Dreyfus, all human’s fail to register on the interest scale or likeability scale, again all culminating in the fact that our CGI beasts are the ones we are rooting for.
Dawn is by far the most impressive big budget movie unleashed so far this year. A movie that is at many times thrilling, sometimes scary and hugely impressive on a technical level, Dawn is another positive step forward in a franchise that has all of a sudden on the back of these 2 newest additions become one of the most promising properties in the Hollywood canon and if the humans can match our beloved Apes in the next instalment, the results will be quite mind-blowing.
4 angst ridden teenage apes out of 5