Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Hey everyone! This week, we’ll take a look at the newest fixture in the reboot series of the original Planet of the Apes, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Directed by Matt Reeves and starring Gary Oldman, Andy Serkis, and Jason Clarke, it is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and brief strong language.

Following the events of the first film, a nation of intelligent apes led by Caeser (Serkis) grows as the human survivors of the devastating virus attempt to rebuild humanity. The humans, attempting to reach a dam to supply their city with energy, instead threaten the apes and are forced to form a fragile truce. However, once that peace is broken, both sides are forced to fight  to determine which species truly reigns superior on this new Earth.

9.5 out of 10

Andy Serkis is incredible.

I feel like The Academy has got to give him some sort of recognition for his work. From Gollum, to King Kong, to Caesar, he is the master of motion capture. I don’t want to discredit his ability to play human characters but his work in motion capture is justso incredible. It is so believable, which is the most crucial aspect of all these fantasy characters, one that Serkis nails every time. His outing as Caesar in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is no different.

andy serkis motion capture

Caesar is a character who I cried for, cheered for, and cringed for. Andy Serkis played him with such realism (as realistic as you can get with a talking ape). As an audience, we really fell in love with Caesar. For that matter, we really fell in love with all the apes… Except for the “antagonist”, if this film really has one, Koba. But the same logic applies. We really HATE Koba. Through all his actions, we start to feel legitimate anger towards him. It’s a great feeling to be so invested in a film, which is a big part of this movie’s success.

Part of what contributed to that realism and investment is the incredible CGI. Excuse me if you disagree, but I think that is perhaps the best CGI I have ever seen. Excessive use of computer-generated imagery has been a problem of late in the film industry, but not in Apes. They were so f-ing realistic. How could they not have used real apes? Every single detail was nailed in it’s entirety. Fur, scars, the lines in their hands: everything was so well done. Major props to Matt Reeves and the entire visual effects department on this one. Not only did their work contribute to the entertainment value of this film, but also its realism. Please let this film a technical Oscar, pretty please.

However, I will say that the humans presented very little, especially when compared to the apes. Most of their characters were slightly boring and made their moments really unwanted. We always wanted to go back to the apes. They had more heart and character than the actual humans. I thought Jason Clarke was pretty solid, but apparently I’m one of the only people in that department. To be frank, they were just pretty boring, and it certainly did help to have to be compared to the apes, who were anything but boring.

The plot, while kind of reminding me of The Lion King, was pretty strong. It never really dragged and never stalled. It was always moving forward. There was always some sort of conflict in the film that allowed the movie to progress. However, if I were to have one complaint towards the plot, it would be that it was very repetitive. There were several occasions where the unease between the apes and humans was evident, and it seemingly took too long for war to break out. On the other hand, this could also be seen as a measure of Caesar’s patience, *SPOILER* a reason why Koba ends up betraying him, so it works both ways.

In the end, this is a must see. You may be tempted to skip this one because the initial concept of talking apes seems stupid, but once you see this movie you will realize how wrong you are.

8 out of 10

Just who is the villain in this movie?As a moviegoer, it is exceptionally awesome when the antagonist is someone or something that is very different from the main character we’re presented with. They’re unrecognizable, we totally, don’t understand them, and we don’t get how they tick: it makes them very interesting to watch.Yet even more interesting, in my humble opinion, is having somebody who’s extremely similar to our protagonist. That way, the lines get blurred (Sans Robin Thicke), the character development is catalyzed and the morality of everyone is clutched and thrown straight into question thus drawing the audience in.

That’s always been the appeal of Planet of the Apes at least. Its primates are 60% the latter and a conclusive 40% of the former with just the right dash of CGI and motion cap. to bring them to life. In this instance, so much so that the filmmakers trust a solid twenty minute focus on just the lead ape, Caesar, and his family to draw us in. They also fill in a lot of the downtime of this movie with ape politics (Yes) and Caesar’s personal life….and goddangit was I invested.

Remember that question I asked, like, three paragraphs ago? I honestly don’t know the answer. There are more exclusively ape scenes than I have let on and many of the human-focused scenes are about or include apes. I went in to the movies looking to root for the home species but I ended up almost leaning toward the hairy primates. I had been had!

Yes, plenty of time is spent getting acquainted with the apes but what about our human leads? Don’t think I have forgotten them. Notice I just used the word “almost” . The human race in this movie have less but equally compelling characters. Without spoiling too much, a few bad apples ruin things for both sides.

This is straining my brain too much, let’s go over a simple conclusion now: the special effects are excellent. When you think about it, it’s very challenging to occasionally etch out that line between ape and human using expressions and fluid movement but then quickly draw it back with more animalistic faces and predatory gestures.

All of this really brings the conflict to life for me, the conflict that the last movie reeled me into so well. Well it’s actually several: what’s the real difference between humans at their worst and apes at their best? How much space would humans give if another species were to grow? How do societies crumble or get propped up just as easily?

poa opening

It’s all really hilarious that a bunch of CGI gorillas can be so thought provoking but maybe that’s that beauty of Planet of the Apes. Sci-fi is all about (Mostly about) exploring humanity’s reactions to the most outlandish of scenarios and, boy, does Apes embody that.

So that is a definite “Yes” on Apes. Although I kind of missed Harry Osborne in this one.

IMDB: 7.8
Metacritic: 79
Rotten Tomatoes: 91%


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