“Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes”
Director: Matt Reeves
Screenwriters: Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Mark Bomback
Cast: Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Toby Kebbell, Keri Russell
Runtime: 2 Hours 10 Minutes
Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and brief strong language.
Studio: 20th Century Fox
After Credits Scene? Audio Clip
The summer of 2014 has been truly incredible so far. With very minimal missteps, it just seems like each week, there’s a new movie that provides a memorable and thought-provoking experience regardless of if it’s a blockbuster or an indie release. We’ve had insanely hilarious comedies like “22 Jump Street” and “Neighbors,” thought-provoking blockbusters like “X-Men: Days Of Future Past” and “Edge Of Tomorrow,” and wonderful indie films like “Begin Again” and “Snowpiercer.” It’s hard to imagine that it can get any better from here.
Enter “Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes,” the highly anticipated sequel to “Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes.” Critics and audience alike were floored by the 2011 surprise hit, even to the point of creating buzz in hopes to get motion capture artist, Andy Serkis, an Oscar nomination. Unfortunately, he ended up getting snubbed, but now he has another shot with this sequel.
“Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes” picks up eight years after the events of it’s predecessor. The Simian Flu has broken out fast, exterminating all of humanity except for this small group of survivors. Meanwhile, a clan of apes led by Caesar (Andy Serkis) is also fighting for survival as they expand. Through a series of circumstances, the two groups are forced to engage in a battle to see which one is the most powerful of the two.
I was hyped out of my mind to see this movie. Ever since the first film ended, I have been eager to see where the franchise would continue. The choice to bring in Matt Reeves to direct was I believe a stroke of genius since I believe “Cloverfield” is one of the most underrated movies of the past 10 years. The trailers have been absolutely phenomenal and I was anxious to see if this sequel would match or even surpass the original. Having seen the film, I can now confirm that it not only surpasses “Rise” in every single way, but “Dawn” manages to be one of the best blockbusters I have seen so far this decade.
A lot of this summer’s blockbusters have aimed to blend a thought-provoking story with a fun summer popcorn flick and have done so successfully. As I’ve already mentioned, “X-Men” and “Edge Of Tomorrow” are two excellent examples of smart films this summer that offered up a fun and memorable theater experience. “Dawn” takes things to an entirely new level as it managed to make me forget very often that I was even watching a summer blockbuster. This movie focuses so much on the emotional levity of it’s story, characters, and themes that it feels like I’m watching an Oscar contender.
Speaking of Oscars, Andy Serkis is a true master of his craft. Ever since “The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers,” he has proven time and time again that motion capture acting is just that – acting. The Academy has failed to realize that a motion capture performance still brings just as much emotional depth to a character as a live action performance does. This film is no exception. In fact, this is Serkis’ best performance to date. He offers up a complex character that is layered and brilliantly well-realized. Through every movement, facial expression, and word that Serkis provides on screen, I was riveted for every second he was present. It’s a revelation what he was able to accomplish in this role.
Even more incredible is the fact that even though he once again is the best in the cast, the rest of the ensemble also brings a lot to the table, unlike the first film. On the human side, Jason Clarke offers up such a relaxed character in Malcom that serves as a perfect harmony with Serkis. Malcom wants peace, just as much as Caesar does and I flat out adored how Clarke played up those similarities even when his tone and attitude is the complete opposite.
Both the human side and the ape side have their closed minded victims that don’t really serve as villains. Gary Oldman’s Dreyfus could have easily come off as a soulless antagonist who just hated the apes, but instead the team here makes a brilliant decision is making him a sympathetic man who just wants to save the human race. In similar fashion, there’s Koba (Toby Kebbell) on the apes side. He, like Dreyfus, could have easily been a brain-dead villain who just mindlessly hated humans, but the film makes sure to provide a backstory on his character for why he can’t trust humans in any context. It’s incredible to see a film about the tension between two groups take so much time out to provide depth to each character, never antagonizing anyone.
The film deals with plenty of themes that relate to the world we live in today such as race, adversity, trust, family, and anarchy. For example, Koba does some things in this film that resemble some of the most tragic events in recent American history. Kebbell does a remarkable job making his character so horrifying to watch and be a pure threat to anyone in the film, human or ape.
Really at it’s core, “Dawn” is about family. Both Caesar and Malcom, are peace-seekers who will do anything to protect their families. There’s frequent mentions of the loss of a loved one with several characters in the film which just made the film that much more emotionally intense. It got so deep at points that I nearly teared up several times during the movie.
Guys, I can go on and on about how good “Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes” is. Beyond just the incredible visual effects and spectacular action, there is so much more to this movie that’s rarely seen in a summer blockbuster like this. Not since “District 9” has a science-fiction film made me think this much about the world I like in and how complex life can be with others. This transcends being just a fun popcorn flick. This is a masterpiece.
Overall, I give “Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes” a perfect A+.
What did you guys think of “Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes?” Did you see the first film? Do you think Andy Serkis should get an Oscar nomination? Leave your thoughts down below.
“Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes” opens in 2D and 3D on July 11, 2014.
Thank you guys so much for reading and, as always, “Follow the Screen, Scene X Scene!”