With the release of War For The Planet Of The Apes just around the corner, I’ve decided to look back and review the previous two instalments of the franchise. Continuing with Matt Reeves’ Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, check out my review below!
Release date: July 17, 2014
Cast: Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Toby Kebbell, Keri Russell, Gary Oldman, and Kodi Smit-McPhee
Director: Matt Reeves
Story: Ten years after simian flu wiped out much of the world’s homosapiens, genetically enhanced chimpanzee Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his ever-growing band of followers have established a thriving colony just outside San Francisco in Muir Woods. Meanwhile, a small band of human survivors emerges, which forces Caesar — as leader — to grapple with the dual challenge of protecting his people and re-establishing a relationship with the remaining human population — the latter being Caesar’s secret wish.
There aren’t many sequels that manage to be better than the original, but Matt Reeves’ Dawn of the Planet of the Apes did a great job of surprising us with an epic, deeply thoughtful and emotional follow-up to the first instalment. While I really enjoyed Rise of the Planet of the Apes (review), and believe it was the perfect way to reboot the franchise, it wasn’t until Matt Reeves took over the sequel that I completely fell in love with this series. Looking specifically at the storyline, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes improved massively on the original movie and turned this franchise into an epic scale, biblical style drama, that focuses largely on the Apes. Matt Reeves was able to construct a narrative that didn’t portray either species as the villain and allowed the audience to connect to both sides of a growing conflict.
Possibly the most exciting aspect of this movie is the way that Matt Reeves slowly builds towards the explosive action sequences. Instead of simply throwing in gigantic and unnecessary battle scenes, Reeves ensures that every piece of violence has a purpose and that every action scene helps the audience connect to the characters. Caesar is undeniably the main character in this chapter of the story, and it’s still exciting to see that Matt Reeves is confident enough in the technology and the performances to really spend time with the Ape community.
What really makes Dawn of the Planet of the Apes stand out as a great summer blockbuster is the incredible amount of character development. There aren’t many characters in this movie, which allows Reeves to focus on creating an extremely relatable and emotional story for the central characters. Caesar is still at the heart of this movie and thanks to Andy Serkis’ flawless performance, continues to be one of the most badass characters in modern cinema. It’s amazing to see how both Reeves and Serkis have developed this character into a great leader of the Ape community. This movie also takes a more personal approach to some of the other apes and yet again strikes gold with Koba (Toby Kebbell), who has possibly the most engaging and exciting story arc in this instalment. Just like the first movie, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes also includes a number of human character and unfortunately, this is the weaker part of the movie. Don’t get me wrong, the performances are great but the human characters are never as interesting or exciting as Caesar and his Apes.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes proves that a summer blockbuster can also tell a deeply emotional and dramatic storyline. While the film maintains elements of an action-adventure, at its heart this is a drama about two endangered species trying to work together. Matt Reeves has managed to enhance his storytelling with some of the best motion capture ever put on screen, which is only possible because of the amazing performances offered by actors such as Andy Serkis and Toby Kebbell. This is a massively entertaining and enjoyable movie but is also a heartfelt, and personal film about these characters.