For someone who’s had his mixed up feelings about the Planet of the Apes franchise, 2011’s Rise of The Planet of the Apes caught my attention. And although I was worried about the makers ruining it with a sequel, Dawn of The Planet of the Apes won my admiration. It was visually, emotionally, and mentally captivating. Can we share our world with a species other than our own? Can we one day admit that humans can actually be equal to another race? Although the movie doesn’t really try to answer these questions, it does give you the arguments needed for you to build a solid opinion on that matter.
Ten years after a deadly virus was unleashed, we find ourselves in a post-apocalyptic world where Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his fellow apes live peacefully in their little community, believing the humans to be extinct. That peace is disturbed when the apes discover that a human colony isn’t far away. The rules Caesar built for his apes society, and his dominance over it, start falling apart as his trusted friend Koba (Toby Kebbell) demands war.
In a movie done right on so many levels, I can only mention the elements that really stand out without having to write a three-page article, so excuse me if I miss anything.
The visuals, from recreating the post-apocalyptic scene to creating that many unique apes, were outstanding. And with the apes done right, the brilliant motion-capture performers swooped in to make them feel so real you’ll look at apes differently now. Chapeau bas to all of them, but Andy Serkis was something else. Everyone’s favorite Gollum (The Lord of The Rings franchise) will now forever be known for his impeccable portrait of Caesar. In a breathtaking scene after the other, Serkis highlighted Caesar’s sorrow, dignity, leadership, regret, and most importantly, Caesar’s show of power.
The emotional depth of the movie left me speechless and in a déjà vu storyline, I felt as if I was watching something completely new. Also, the Caesar and Koba reminded me of Mufasa and Scar, which goes a long way since I grew up watching The Lion King.
Director Matt Reeves, who did not direct the first film, pulled an incredible job with Dawn of The Planet of The Apes. Two scenes completely took me away, one involving a tank and the other with Jason Clarke’s Malcom running from room to room in a building.
One thing I didn’t really like was how the human characters were developed. They felt like the cliché characters of every post-apocalyptic film: the leader, the doctor, the kid, the a**hole, the tough guy, and so on. But, since they get so little screen time, that didn’t seem like a problem.
With the beautiful visuals, the outstanding performances, the emotional depth, and a few unforgettable scenes, Dawn of The Planet of The Apes surpasses its successor and turns you into an admirer of a franchise you’ve been watching your whole life. It’s one of the best sci-fi films I’ve seen in a while, and without a doubt, one of 2014’s best.