DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
Directed by Matt Reeves. Starring Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldham & Keri Russell.
The original Planet of the Apes film might well have been the first scifi movie I had ever seen back when I was abut seven. I quickly became a fan and watched every single sequel and even the TV series obsessively. PotA was a cautionary tale about man’s self-destruction and the rise of the intelligent apes to replace man as the dominant species on Earth. The franchise lost steam around 1975 but was revived in a risible remake helmed by Tim Burton.
Back in 2011, the franchise was rebooted with director Rupert Wyatt taking a different narrative starting point, in effect re-writing the origin story of the entire premise. Personally, I thought that Rise of the Planet of the Apes was competent but nothing spectacular, although the motion capture work (especially by Serkis – as ape leader Caesar) was ground-breaking, to say the least.
Thus, going into the sequel to Rise, I had measured expectations. Well, glad to report that Dawn is a definite improvement on its predecessor with a straight-forward story that does not tax the brain too much, complemented by first rate special effects which keep the suspension of disbelief a viable concern throughout the film. The movie brings us to a point ten years after Earth has fallen victim to the ‘simian virus’ and the apes are living in a paradise with Caesar their benign ruler. But once the apes encounter human survivors, there is that sense of impending doom that things will never be the same again.
The apes all look amazing – Serkis’ motion-capture performance of Caesar is, dare I say – Oscar worthy but sadly the humans are basically cyphers with as much depth as the other apes as well. In fact, the humans serve as a plot device to facilitate Caesar’s own journey from naive leader to battle-hardened one. Which, to be honest, is fine with me – this film is about Caesar and he is definitely the ‘star’ character that everything about Dawn revolves around. The moral is clear – if humans themselves can’t even stop killing each other, how can one expect different species to do so?
The denouement is nothing shocking or surprising and sets up perfectly for the inevitable next sequel and I for one, am now looking forward to part three with eager anticipation! Highly recommended.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is now showing at a cinema near you.