Saturday, July 19, 2014

Review - "Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes"

Following up the first excellent film in this revised series, “Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes” was definitely going to be a tough job. The end of that movie left you wondering where they would take the next movie. After the director, Rupert Wyatt departed, it left a big question mark as to who could follow up such a great effort. I can safely say that director Matt Reeves not only met, but exceeded expectations.

Set ten years after the events of Rise, Dawn starts with the apes living in their own community, away from humans, living in peace, and wondering if human beings even exist anymore. Well, the humans show up, and the conflicts begin.

What was so great about this movie was that you saw the struggles on both sides, and characters who were very similar in their fears in beliefs and sometimes in behavior, both ape and human. You could understand both sides, and you could see the inevitable conflicts that were to come in this very delicate situation. Everyone wants to live in peace, but you know that as much as either side wants it, somehow, something will go wrong.

Andy Serkis again delivers a stellar performance that needs few words to convey the emotions and struggles of the ape leader, Caesar.  The rest of his companions in the ape community are also equally well portrayed. Koba, played by Toby Kebbell, was also great as the ape who suffered greatly at the hands of the humans in Rise, and does not trust them at all, and wants nothing to do with them .I really liked that the apes, although capable of speech, choose to use it only when they feel it necessary. Speaking of their speech, it is done very well, they just don't talk like humans, they talk like a species that is just learning how to talk, which makes it very believable.

The human cast, led by Jason Clarke (“Zero Dark Thirty”) are also very solid, although no one gives what I would call a stand out performance, but that is not to say that anyone wasn't good. Gary Oldman wasn't in the movie as much as I though he would be, but delivers his usual solid performance as Dreyfus, the leader of the surviving humans in San Francisco, who cannot see the apes as anything more than mere animals, and considers them nothing but a threat to the human race.

The ape effects are absolutely stellar, you really believe you are watching animals, not actors. The music, composed by Michael Giacchino, is wonderful and adds a great emotional element to the movie.

To say much more about the story would give too much away, so I won't elaborate. I'll just say that there are so many great moments, I can't even pick one that I can say was my favorite.

The build up to the inevitable conflict is exciting, and the action set pieces really deliver the goods. There were even a few moments I got a bit teary eyed. Make no mistake , this is a dark movie, but one that is absolutely fantastic. I cannot recommend it highly enough. If you liked Rise, you will love Dawn. I can only hope that director Matt Reeves will return for another movie, he's stepped up to the big time now, and I can't wait to see what happens next.

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