Directed by Matt Reeves and sequel to the 2011 film Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which began 20th Century Fox’s reboot of the original Planet of the Apes series, Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes is the eighth theatrical film in the franchise. In the wake of a disaster that changed the world, the film follows a growing nation of genetically evolved apes, led by Caesar (Andy Serkis), who are threatened by a band of humans – including Malcolm (Jason Clarke), Dreyfus (Gary Oldman), Alexander (Kodi Smit-McPhee), and Ellie (Keri Russell) – the few survivors of the devastating virus unleashed a decade earlier. But their fragile peace proves short-lived, as both sides are brought to the brink of a war that will determine who will emerge as Earth’s dominant species.
Undoubtedly one of the best summer blockbusters of 2014, Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes is a powerful sequel with the perfect balance of story, drama, tension, action, character development, and emotion.
I’ve recently re-watched all of the original films and they are immensely enjoyable. It’s a classic franchise, but these new reboots bring so much more to the story, explaining how the apes conquered humanity in the beginning. There’s so much dedication and respect for the story and that’s what makes these films work, successfully carrying on a franchise for both old fans and new.
These new reboots also show how far cinema has come with the likes of special effects. The live-action motion capture (which you can view an example of here) is mind-blowing. The clip above gives you a glimpse at what filming and acting was like on set, and it really is astonishing. A massive applause needs to be given to the ape actors, most notably Serkis as Ceaser, Toby Kebbell as Koba, Nick Thurston as Blue Eyes, and Karin Konoval as Maurice. They deserve all the recognition in the world for this, as for many cinema-goers the actors behind the CGI won’t be recognised amongst the cast list. But once you learn about the dedication behind the effects, it is these actors that you realise hold all of the screen presence. Their performances really are incredible, and the way that film-making is evolving is so rapidly impressive.
Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes is certainly better than its predecessor, which in itself is a difficult accomplishment, but whilst I enjoyed the way the dystopian story progressed, was in awe of the effects and performances, and was constantly turning to my partner with a shocked face at certain plot turns, that were surprisingly affecting, I didn’t love this film. There are so many great things about it, and I think it’s definitely the most powerful science fiction of 2014, but there are issues, ones that I’m annoyingly yet to get my head clear on, that prevent this from achieving greatness.