Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Review

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (Jason Clarke)

2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes was a film that surprised and blew away many. It was very much in that category of classic laboratory/smart chimp movies from the 1980s and 1990s combined with the foundations of a fresh new take on the Planet of the Apes franchise.

It also had some of the best motion capture work in all of cinema, with Andy Serkis surpassing Gollum with his performance as Caesar.

Finally, a sequel has rolled around. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. And… it’s phenomenal. It tops the film before it, and it’s potentially going to be the best big movie release of the summer not called Guardians of the Galaxy.

While Rise had that 1980s/1990s lab movie feel, Dawn is very much a marriage of apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic fiction set in overgrown abandoned cities and the inevitable titular “Dawn” of the Planet of the Apes.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (Andy Serkis as Caesar)The human world has lived through the “Simian Flu” that began in Rise, and it’s slowly trying to rebuild in the ashes of the world that was. Meanwhile the apes have already established their own home outside San Francisco, complete with complex wooden architecture, education, hunting, healthcare, and the like.

It’s a fairly sizable community of the apes.

But of course, the human world and the ape world begin to overlap. And incite conflict.

And boy, is it uneasy for all sides.

Writers Mark Bomback, Rick Jaffa, and Amanda Silver all do a fantastic job balancing the script and give every character and every moment weight. Not a single scene is pointless, even the smallest of details means something. Yet like the drop of water that lands on the back of your hand, you can’t always predict what is going to happen. Which is a refreshing thing in the world of cinema.

It helps keep you on the edge of your seat. And you will be kept on the edge of your seat. You’ll feel for the plight of the humans, but you’ll probably feel more for the apes. Even more than you might have in the previous film. It’s a film where one will react strongly to the events going on. Not even cry, per se, but just feel emotions that most films that try to do so fail at.

Matt Reeves clearly has directed something special here.

It’s the perfect step up for a sequel. The Terminator 2, the Aliens of this new Planet of the Apes franchise. More apes. More humans. More conflict. More action. More emotion. More “moments”.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes had a moment that personally gave me chills. Dawn has even more of the same. There’s just something about the escalation in this sequel that gets the blood pumping, the brain turning, the apprehension, the excitement.

And goddamn, this film better get recognition for its technical achievements. And acting achievements too, because Andy Serkis is Caesar. The world saw it in 2011, and now it’s just something else entirely.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (Gary Oldman)As the world recovers from the travesty that is Transformers: Age of Extinction, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is the perfect solution. A smart, exciting sequel that pushes film technology in a brilliant way, expands on a world one would like to see even more of, and is definitely worth seeing this week. Multiple times. You won’t be disappointed.

Only downside is there’s not enough Gary Oldman screen time. Then again, you do get more apes on horseback. With guns.

So that’s not a complete loss.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is out Thursday 17th July in the UK and stars Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Keri Russell, and Gary Oldman. It’s directed by Matt Reeves, from a script written by Mark Bomback, Rick Jaffa, and Amanda Silver.

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