Saturday, July 12, 2014

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Review: Apes Strong!

In 1968, one film series had moviegoers keeping a close eye on apes; because you never know when they are going to take over.  Thanks to director Franklin J.Schaffner, Planet of the Apes has been recognized as a cinematic classic, and the movie soon found itself a franchise as seven films followed the original flick. The Ape  series has had its highs and lows; but for the longest time, it seemed that the movie world had seen the last of the Planet of the Apes. That was until 2011 when Fox rebooted the franchise with the summer blockbuster Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

I found the reboot to be lacking in many areas. Yet that did not seem both critics and moviegoers from loving this new take on the sci-fi franchise. Rise was such a success that it did not long for Fox to green light a sequel. So from Rise of the Planet of the Apes comes its sequel:  Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. The latest film  takes place 10 years after the events of Rise and focuses on the ape Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his clan of simians who deal the remaining humans of San Francisco. This sequel had a lot of good buzz going into it, but did Dawn of the Planet of the Apes sway this nonbeliever?

One major issue I had with Rise of the Planet of the Apes was its story. It was not a bad plot for a character like Caesar, but the story had one too many cliches to it and it felt like a poor man's X-Men story. I am pleased to say that Dawn of the Planet of the Apes not only has a better story, but it actually made Rise's plot redeemable. What made story for Dawn so great was the inner conflict of both apes and man.The plots captures the atmosphere of the film perfectly by showing the fear and prejudice of not just the humans, but the apes as well. This conflict made for compelling parallels and themes for the story. Aside from themes and context, the plot was just a good continuation from Rise by calling back from the 2011 film, but being able to stand out on its own.

It is not often that an entire motion capture performances can be the main draw of a movie. However if anyone could pull it off, it would be Andy Serkis; and fortunately he does as the role of Caesar. Andy Serkis not only had a good performance as the primate leader, but Caesar is the actor's best work since Gollum. Andy Serkis' performance was the perfect blend of physical and raw emotion. From every expression to every word Caesar utter, it was an impressive feat from the actor. Serkis was indeed the MVP of the film, but that does not mean other performances went unnoticed. All the roles for the apes were outstanding; such as Toby Kebbell as the malicious ape Koba.

The apes are the film's showstealers, but what can be said about the human performances? The human characters may not have been as strong as the apes, but they still worked for the movie. Jason Clarke provided a solid performance as Malcolm. While Gary Oldman, though he is not in the film as much as advertised, made for an understandable detractor for the apes. The fact of the matter is that while not all the characters were outstanding, everyone in this film were either great or understandable. However, at the end of the day, the apes showed a new meaning to motion captured performance.


As you can tell, much of this film's strength comes from the motion capture performances. So it stands to reason that the visual effects for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes needed to be top notch; and sure enough , they were. The visuals to this film were impressive to say the least as it blended practical and cgi effects flawlessly. It would be shocking for this blockbuster not nominated for best effects come award season. The score from Michael Giacchino should also be commended. Gianchino's score could go from soothing to grand in a heartbeat, and it never lost the idea behind the film. Whether it was the effects of the music, all of elements only heighten the concept to this latest entry in the Apes franchise.

For someone who did not care for Rise of the Planet of the Apes, its sequel is a different matter entirely. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is superior to its predecessor in every way by having more compelling story and solid performances to match. Add stunning visual effects and elements from the 1968 classic, and you have perhaps the strongest Apes film to date; not to mention one of the best films of 2014..