The first Apes film I ever saw was 2011’s James Franco-starrer, Rise of the Planet of the Apes. I was instantly a fan and this naturally made me curious to see what I had been missing all of these years; I couldn’t ignore the original franchise any longer. It wasn’t until about two years later, however, that I actually followed through with my plan. A new sequel was about to be released in theaters and Best Buy was having an amazing sale on not only the original series on Blu-ray, but also the film which made me an instant fan, as well. That new ready-to-be-released sequel was entitled Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and it would strengthen my admiration of the series much more than I could have ever imagined.
Dawn takes place 10 years after the events of its predecessor, where a virus has swept out the majority of the human race. In this post-simian flu world, the apes, lead by Caesar, have a home in which they keep to themselves and really have no idea if there are any human survivors or not. It isn’t until a team of these survivors stumbles across the apes accidentally that things change drastically. Mixed emotions and the desire to prove who is the superior race causes a rift among the species and an all-out war erupts almost immediately…
Gone are the days of Charlton Heston’s bare chest and actors running around in ape suits! These post-2010 Apes flicks are a new breed of film and quite honestly, I can’t believe how far they’ve come. From the acting and character development to the cinematography and visual effects, I can’t find anything negative to say. Everything has been meticulously calculated and executed in breathtaking fashion.
The acting in this 2014 sequel is exactly what you’d expect from a high-budget studio film. Everyone performed wonderfully and with a cast consisting of Gary Oldman (Dracula, The Dark Knight trilogy), Keri Russell (Dark Skies), and Kodi Smit-McPhree (The Road, Let Me In), I wouldn’t expect anything less. Additionally, Jason Clark’s role as the outspoken human leader, Malcolm, has officially raised his status from ‘the other brother from Lawless‘ to a real player in the Hollywood movie scene. I have no doubt that his performance in the upcoming Terminator movie will further that distinction and have even more people speaking his name.
With a cast of performers as talented as those I’ve already listed, it would be hard for anyone to outshine them. This statement is no longer true, however, as soon as the names Andy Serkis and Toby Kebbell are thrown into the mix. Never in my film-watching life have I ever witnessed more stunning motion-capture work. The abilities, not only of the physical kind, that these guys possess are uncanny. To breathe, stand, walk, run, and roll around like an ape is impressive. What is even more impressive is the skill needed to develop a unique character and individual personality, while doing all of these ape-like mannerisms. The amount of research, studying, and practice that both Serkis and Kebbell put into their roles is ridiculous for me to even fathom and I commend them both for their brilliant performances as the perfect hero and villain, Caesar and Koba. Without them, this movie would not be as great as it is.
The amount of detail and authenticity created by the VFX team on this film is out of this world. Every chimpanzee, orangutan, and gorilla looks like the real deal. So much so, in fact, that I guarantee that you will forget that you are even watching fake apes running around on screen at least a couple of times during your viewing experience. Every single hair and each wrinkle of skin looks flawless and this precision coupled with Serkis, Kebbell, and every other ape performers’ expertise will have you in awe for the entire 130 minutes.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a fantastic continuation to what Rupert Wyatt and his team started with their rejuvenation of the Apes franchise in 2011. It contains elements of sci-fi, action, horror, and drama and pulls them all off very well. If you a fan of Rise, rest assured, you will be a fan of this one, as well. You can enjoy and own it on Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD today thanks to 20th Century Fox.
I give this film 5 cute baby chimps out of 5.