Movie Review: Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes

apesOn the fence about spending some time with some damn dirty apes this weekend? Check out this review of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes to find out if it’s worth you hard earned cash!

downloadDawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)

Starring: Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell

Directed By: Matt Reeves

There are few sequels that stand as better entries than the movies that came prior to them. Empire Strikes Back is one of them. So is Spider-Man 2. The Dark Knight is another. Well, we can now add Dawn of the Planet of the Apes to that list. Yes, the sequel to 2011’s way better than it had any right to be Rise of the Planet of the Apes is that good. It builds upon what was set up in Rise, but also stands on its own as a stellar film as well.

It’s been ten years since Caesar (Andy Serkis) led his apes into he woods outside of San Francisco. In that time, the virus released by the apes has ravaged humanity. The small packet of survivors camped out in the runs of San Francisco are led by Dreyfus (Gary Oldman), a man who’s struggling to find a way to keep his large community with enough fuel to survive. Thankfully he’s got Malcolm, (Jason Clarke); a former technician who believes that the dam located in the woods can be used to supply the community with the power that they need to survive. Of course, this dam lies within the boundaries of Caesar’s colony of genetically altered apes, which leads to a power struggle for Caesar, who wants to try to build peace with the humans, even though his fellow apes don’t trust them.

Yeah, that plot sounds pretty simple. And it is. But this movie is incredible. Director Matt Reeves puts the perspective firmly on Caesar and his struggle to try and keep the peace between his apes and the humans, and it’s surprisingly moving at times. A lot of screen time is devoted to the apes, and if you think that might be a bad thing, it’s not. In fact, it’s necessary for the big finale of the film, when a crew of apes attack the surviving humans. It’s more than just a CGI fest filled with awesome scenes; it’s extremely devastating to watch. Apes go down as fast as the humans do, and in the end, you don’t know entirely which side to root for.

The CGI in this film is absolutely top notch. There are moments where you forget that you’re watching a computer-animated ape communicate with a human. Of course, as good as the CGI is, Dawn wouldn’t be the same movie if Andy Serkis wasn’t the performer behind Caesar. This film is exhibit A for why Serkis deserves an Oscar nomination. Yes, CGI helped make him LOOK like an ape, but the facial expression, movements, and voice are all him.

Equally as good as Serkis is Jason Clarke, who along with Keri Russell serves as our primary human characters. Clarke is essentially the James Franco character in this film (AKA the good hearted human), and he brings a lot of depth to his character. His reasons for getting the dam up and running are more than just being able to turn the lights on. It’s for his son as well. There’s a very clear father/son theme that runs throughout this movie, with Malcolm trying to protect his son and Caesar not only caring for his newborn son, but also trying to connect with his older one as well. It’s these relationships that give Caesar and Malcolm their common ground, and when the two characters realize that there can never be peace between the surviving humans and the apes it’s really heartbreaking.

If there’s one criticism I have with this film, it’s that the trailers definitely play up Gary Oldman’s role to be bigger than it is. He’s really in the film for maybe a half hour at most. However, he’s Gary friggin’ Oldman, and delivers some pretty strong moments as well, even if a lot of them are “we’re going to kill those things if they come back here”. There’s a quiet moment late in the film with Oldman’s character that not only allows you to see the cracks in his gruff exterior, but feel for him as well.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is the rare summer blockbuster that’s not only visually exciting and full of action, but extremely moving as well. I think it’s fair to say that no one expected this when Fox first announced their plans to reboot the Planet of the Apes franchise, but man, I’m glad they did. Dawn is an incredible movie, and so far stands as one of, if not the best, movies of the summer. I won’t lie; I even almost shed a tear at the end of the film. This is a movie that deserves your hard earned cash, and you don’t even have to have seen Rise of the Planet of the Apes to enjoy it.

 

VERDICT: A

 

Jonwahizzle is a jack of all trades: educator, and comic book slinger for Jetpack Comics Follow him on twitter and check out his blog, The Collective: Examples of Nerdery for more!

10 thoughts on “Movie Review: Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes

  1. Well I bet Chris will most likely agree. I’m actually pretty excited to watch this, even though I’m not that big of a fan of Rise.

  2. I liked the first one quite a bit despite having absolutely no investment to the series prior to it, and everyone is pretty much raving about this one even more. Really, only reason I haven’t watched it is because Mexican cinemas haven’t deemed worthy of showing it in my town yet >_>

  3. Couldn’t agree more, as a pretty big fan of the series (though not as big as Chris) I loved pretty much every second of this movie. With the year half over, I could see this as a strong contender for my personal top 2 or 3 favourite films of the year, and hopefully it gets some love from the Academy.

  4. Came back today, and DAMN was it good. I found myself pleasantly surprised by ‘Rise’ and this builds on it so naturally, and goes beyond it as well. It’s a showcase for the idea in storytelling that it’s better to have focused ideas, rather than throw fifteen elements into the pot. (*cough* Amazing Spiderman 2 *cough*)

    From Godzilla, to Days of Future Past, to Edge of Tomorrow, to Dawn…this summer has been a big winning streak. Oh, I hope GOTG doesn’t break it. (Didn’t see ASM2 or Transformers…and won’t)

  5. I saw it Saturday and LOVED it. I’m not a big Planet of the Apes fan but this movie hooked me and has me really interested in the franchise. Rise was good but Dawn is the penultimate experience in my eyes. I was concerned it would revolve around the humans mostly with the apes around occasionally. WRONG. This movie features a ton of Ape action and does a fantastic job of story telling. Add to that some great characters, visuals, and badass action scenes and you’ve got one of the best movies of the year.

    Hope Hollywood takes note and treats all the big summer blockbusters like this.

  6. Yep, I teared up a couple of times. This is one of the best movies this year, hands down. The CG was absolutely fantastic (holy shit, Koba alone!) and the acting was superb (by humans and apes alike). I’m a little apprehensive about seeing any other movies this year. They’re all going to suck compared to this. Best Picture 2014. 10/10

  7. I absolutely loved the movie. Despite succeeding as summer blockbuster, the movie never sacrifices story for action. What action there is has a plot reason to exist and does not feel shoehorned. Other movies try to develop the plot with stupid characters and decisions that don’t make any sense, but this movie does a great job of characters being intelligent and their own motivations are what drive the story.

    Rather than being a movie about how man is the ultimate evil, it shows the story from both human and ape perspective and is about how both sides realize that species has less to do with who to trust than they thought. They’re are truly good humans and apes, and truly bad humans and apes. Even those that would be considered villains are fleshed out enough that you can see why they’ve become the way they are.

    Would highly recommend.

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