Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – Review

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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Starring: Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Keri Russell, Gary Oldman, Toby Kebbell, Kirk Acevedo
Based on the Novel “La Planete des Singes” by: Pierre Boulle
Based on the Characters created by: Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver
Written for the Screen by: Mark Bomback and Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver
Directed by: Matt Reeves
Metacritic Score: 79
IMDb Score: 7.7
Nominated for 1 Oscar for Best Visual Effects

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and brief strong language

Many were surprised by the 2011 release of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which some was considering to be a dud before it came out. Due to the strong special effects and the great story, Rise was a hit and a sequel was green lit. Only, it doesn’t have its main bankable star James Franco. That didn’t seem to matter though: this science fiction series has another quality film on its hands and only makes viewers want to see more of this sharply made science fiction series.

Caesar (Serkis) is the leader of a home of apes that live outside of San Francisco, free from the outside world and from humans, whom Caesar believes to be extinct. However, few do live in a pandemic ridden society run by Godfrey (Oldman) and are found by the apes when a crew of people make their way to the dam to power their town. The filmspan tells the story of Caesar’s tribulations to make some peace with the humans while most apes would rather them die.

As stated previously, this is a solid continuation from the first movie that not only works well without seeing the first, it also gives you enough to want to see more of the story. The risk involved from dumping almost all of the characters from the first pays off immensely, leaving a movie that humanizes the main characters (the apes) while giving a firm foundation of the themes of future films.

The only performance worth mentioning, as it always is mentioned, is Andy Serkis, who does a great job humanizing the leader Caesar in a way that special effects never have. Serkis, who acts as the character while being super imposed as the ape, gives a tender humanity that most films lack when creating CGI characters. This isn’t new with Serkis, who played Gollum in the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, but the fact that his craft seems to be evolving along with the technology is simply a wondrous sight to see.

Along with that, the story goes on a reasonable clip, being entertaining throughout without any real sense of pace problems. The movie isn’t exactly innovative, but there is a good sense of craftsmanship and imagination in the movie that few sci-fi films seem to inhabit nowadays. It’s breezy and fun, without being overly preachy or “messagey”.

The action scenes are also very well done and exciting, being a nice spectacle to watch. They aren’t entirely flashy or crazy, but they do provide solid action to get through the film.

The one issue with the film is the actual human characters. These characters are the usual one dimensional tropes that action/sci-fi movies have been used to. Does it really matter? Not really, because the film is about the action and the primates in the film.

The movie’s emotional center, strangely enough, is with Caesar and the apes, which the movie does a great job with having you sympathize with their plight. The movie’s emotional heart is out on its sleeve but it’s crafted very well to the point that you feel for the characters.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is an exciting, fun film with a surprising amount of depth involving the apes and the great performance by Andy Serkis. The film doesn’t feel dragged out (which is good for an over 2 hour movie) and the action stays exciting from beginning to end, leaving a film that is fun to watch, whether or not you’ve seen the first.

3.5/5 – Serkis’ performance, as well as the great action, caps a solid film in this franchise

The Wiz Says #10

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