‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ – Film Thoughts/Review

UK Release: July 17th 2014

After the surprise success of the franchise reboot of ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ both critically and commercially in 2011, you might have though director Rupert Wyatt would have returned. Instead after creative disputes you get Matt Reeves (‘Cloverfield’/’Let Me In’) taken the directing and writing roles for ‘DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES’. Following on 10 years after the event of ‘Rise’ ended, the film follows the Human colony and the Ape colony trying to live side-by-side. On the human side you have Jason Clarke’s Malcolm, his wife Ellie (Keri Russell), their son Alexander (Kodi Smith-McPhee) and the head of their respected colony Dreyfus (Gary Oldman). On the apes side (all using motion capture provided by Imaginarium Studio), Andy Serkis as Ceaser and very talented Toby Kebbell as the Magneto-a-like Koba.
Like regular Hollywood summer blockbusters, you get not just the usual context of shared effects/ horror of war and the analogy of the Iraq conflicts, what you get is more an interesting look at trust and perspectives. It takes actual time in the film to see how the apes and humans can trust one and other. Essentially the context here is that in this post apocalyptic man made world, the apes are surviving better then the humans. It doesn’t feel sudden, it is clear that just allowing character to have time and patience it can give you the desired effects needed. There is a few issues though from this as the world is very much male dominated, the females seem to placed aside in more motherly roles. Saying that thought the motion capture is terrific. The performances between Serkis and Kebbel are terrific as well, in the early goings of the film they use sign language to communicate with one and other. I find it fascinating that they are drawing up techniques in mute acting in these scenes with no sound communication. This should be celebrated.
There is a few issues here and there though. The third act feels overblown, very generic, very ordinary as well. It’s a shame as well because dramatically speaking this action should have a good enough story to tell without having fire pits etc. That and the bridge sequence at the end of ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ had a incredible sense of scale. Saying this though all main characters do have motive in this film, and while some (like Gary Oldman’s) isn’t fully utilized in the third act, it certainly will leave a lasting impression with audiences and will make them talk about it. It is also good that is more from the apes perspective then humans, which was a problem with the original films. I do also like how this Ebola scare seems to mirror the Simian flu of this film as well. ‘Dawn’ does leave the franchise in a good place, and it will be interesting to see going forward where this will lead. Perhaps something based on ‘Conquest’?
*Note the graphic novel his son reads in this, ‘Black Hole!’.

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