Movie: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Director: Matt Reeves
Cast: Andy Serkis, Gary Oldman, Jason Clarke, Toby Kebbell, Keri Russell
With Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Hollywood gave us a rare blockbuster - one which was racy yet brainy, a visual extravaganza which was also nuanced. And that ending -- it was a cliffhanger if we have ever seen one. The apes, led by the redoubtable Caesar, were heading towards freedom and humans were heading for decimation thanks to the simian flu which came out of a lab.
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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes picks up where the first part left. It has been 10 years and humans are believed to be extinct. Apes are in the early stages of civilisation, and -- as the film will show - closer to humans than anyone believed.
Movie Review: Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes is entertaining
In the middle of this land humans who desperately need to tap an energy source bang in the middle of the ape settlement. While Caesar (Andy Serkis) wants peace, his deputy Koba (Toby Kebbell) - who was tortured in a lab before he escaped -- wants revenge.
Sentiments are divided in the human camp too. Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) believes humans have a chance only when the last ape is killed. His cry remains, "They're animals".
Peacenik Malcolm (Jason Clarke), his girlfriend Ellie (Keri Russell) and son Alexander (Kodi Smit-McPhee) are touched by Caesar's humanity and have complete faith in him. However, when interests clash and fear takes over, a war is inevitable. So, who will emerge as the planet's dominant species?
But, the more important question is: where do your loyalties lie as a viewer? Both humans and apes are caught in their own compulsions in a dystopian world, allegories for real-life issues, and we hope they will take a stab at peace while realising it's not possible in the long-term. The film shows what forms the genesis of dictatorships and the fear of the 'other'.
WATCH: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: Meet the man behind the apes
Purely in terms of well-defined characters in the film, we will just stick with the apes. Just like the first time, the ape characters are so much more well-sketched and layered. The humans - again - feel one-dimensional. They are either good or bad with the minimal of backstories.
When the film is not raising serious questions, it is a visual spectacle. Some of the war scenes and a hunting scene in the beginning are awe-inspiring. The moments when we first see the ape colony are also outstanding. Apes swing off the trees, jump off the walls and are probably the reason why this film gives us a bang for our buck in term of 3D effects.
That brings us to the piece de resistance of the film - Andy Serkis. The film uses motion capture technology that accurately translates performance into animation. Full marks to director Matt Reeves for capturing the human emotions and expressions of his actors even as they grunt and walk like simians.
And nobody does it better than the talented Andy Serkis. As the patriarch who gradually comes to realise that his beloved race shares the same follies as humans or his anger when his loyalty to his race is questioned - Serkis brings that rare quality to the character. With those soulful eyes, he depicts Caesar's pathos, rage, sympathy and concern. The film begins and ends with his face's close-up and we believe Reeves could not have done better.
A perfect summer watch which will also give you something to think about - go for it.