Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes [2014] ★★★

static.squarespace.comSummer season takes an unexpected turn with “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”, a spectacular follow up to the 2011 hit starring Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke and directed by Matt Reeves. I couldn’t be more surprised to be honest. After 7 movies and Tim Burton’s crappy remake, the series has been milked hard, it’s a wonder there’s still room for surprises. Anyway, what I’m saying is that “Dawn”made a monkey out of me. I was certain it would suck. Instead, the movie rises and offers an incredible visual experience in glorious 3D. No more guys squeezed into monkey suits. Performance-capture makes everything seem fresh. To watch what actor Andy Serkis does as Caesar, the lead ape from “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”, is to witness a kind of miracle. In fact, Serkis gives by far one of the best performances in the movie, and he is right there on set, acting alongside Jason Clarke, Kerri Russell and the great Gary Oldman. Caesar’s tribe now lives in the woods, a decade after the events of the previous movie. Humans have been wiped out as a result of the deadly virus. Except they haven’t, at least not entirely. When a group of humans enters the woods, hoping to restart the power plant for a community of survivors living in the abandoned city, their leader (Clarke) manages to convince Caesar that they mean them no harm. Things eventually go wrong, as they should, but to reveal more would be unthinkable. And yet, none of this would matter if the apes, chimps and gorillas weren’t so incredibly convincing. These performance-capture roles are remarkable and they are the backbone of the story. Whine all you want about the cheesy acting of the humans, the shameless tearjerking in the script by Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, and the predictable storyline. Solid points for sure. Just wait. As soon as Caesar appears onscreen, you’ll be hooked. Credit director Matt Reeves for making the most of this opportunity and scoring an absolute bull’s-eye. Still, the real story of this film is written in Caesar’s eyes. The images of him as a leader are iconic, and Serkis makes the idea of yet another sequel seem promising, instead of dreadful. I’d follow this ape anywhere.

Rating: 3/4

4 replies »

  1. [It may contain SPOILERS.]
    I know I will sound whiny and all. In fact, I enjoyed Dawn, I thought it was a very decent summer blockbuster. The apes were great, Koba made a very memorable villain. And Andy Serkis was as great as ever. What the movie lacked though, is a decent human character. A character (a reason) that is manipulative enough to provoke the apes and thus justify their actions. Because I thought all the action scenes, though beautifully shot, were forced, unjustified, and the story didn’t build itself decently like in the previous one. They writers just needed the action to start without giving enough reasons. The movie was basically a decent ape story (good characters, good villain etc..) vs a terrible human story (a clueless man, his wife and their teenage son fixed a very complex piece of machinery…) and I ended up not knowing who was I supposed to be rooting for since none of the human ‘characters’ were evil enough.

    I’m being a little bit critical, because the movie takes itself seriously when it comes to offering a social\political\environmental critique. When in fact, it didn’t.

    Finally, the saddest part in this movie was seeing Gary Oldman playing this incredibly bland character. What a shame.

    (What did they accomplish by [SPOILER ALERT] blowing up the tower? :P)

    • I actually think that the fact that they didn’t make the human characters “evil” was great. It wasn’t so black and white, and not knowing who to root for was, in my opinion, one of the film’s great accomplishments. I still totally ended up rooting for Caesar because he’s a freaking badass though 😉

      And as for Gary Oldman, I thought his character was under used, but he had one scene (involving an ipad) that told you everything you needed to know about him. That one moment was enough for me. But I agree, the film’s biggest fault was one-dimentional human characters. But Koba’s motivations were very clear from the get-go, so him starting the war made sense!

      • Koba’s motivations were clear. However, the thing he did [SPOILERS….kind of] that triggered the ‘war,’ was totally underwhelming. Because it was Caesar, THE MESSIAH, and nobody gave a crap or reacted. A double check on Caesar, at least by his family, would’ve made things much more convincing since we were shown how developed the apes were. But instead they started they immediately action because…I don’t know.

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