Review: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) – Matt Reeves

-1DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES: Directed by Matt Reeves

From IMDB: A growing nation of genetically evolved apes led by Caesar is threatened by a band of human survivors of the devastating virus unleashed a decade earlier. They reach a fragile peace, but it proves short-lived, as both sides are brought to the brink of a war that will determine who will emerge as Earth’s dominant species. 

– The first (and only) Planet of the Apes film I ever watched was the reboot made in 2011, RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES.  I didn’t see it when it came out (I wasn’t a huge film fan then) but I watched it last year because I’m a fan of James Franco.  When I heard that a lot of people had a problem with James Franco and that he wouldn’t be involved in the sequel, I was pretty disappointed.  I’m not a fan of sequels that have an all new cast, however, with the inclusion of Jason Clarke (a very underrated actor) and some solid trailers, DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES became a film I had to see.

– The story begins around 10 years after the conclusion of the ‘RISE’ film, and even with the new cast, they did a great job of connecting the two films together.  I would suggest watching ‘RISE’ before seeing ‘DAWN.’

– The first thing that must be talked about his how fantastic the film looks.  The special effects are amazing.  There’s some notable action scenes that were so intense and very well filmed.  The 3-D didn’t add anything spectacular.  In fact, I would’ve preferred watching it in 2-D.  Unless the 3-D adds some amazing effects to a film, I’d much prefer avoiding the glasses.

– The film is essentially about man vs. ape, but I didn’t have a clue who I was supposed to be cheering for.  Right from the get-go, an inside look into the apes colony gives you an understanding of how they’ve been living since the end of the ‘RISE’ film.  The apes use sign language amongst each other, and some of them even speak English – the baby monkeys go to school and are learning the language.  They’re just minding their own business and creating lives of their own away from any human life.

– One thing I loved about RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES was the way the apes looked, and in ‘DAWN’ they looked even better.  It’s so impressive that the audience is able to see the personalities of the different apes just by looking at their eyes.  Even though many of them are similar looking, I always knew who was who just by very small details.

– There’s some really touching moments with the apes, like the birth, as well as the baby ape discovering humans for the first time.

– What makes the film special is the way it makes you feel for the apes, especially Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his family.  He’s the leader amongst all of the apes, being treated like a god from his followers.  Andy Serkis’ performance will go unnoticed because of all the graphics that are put into making the ape look like an ape, but what a beautiful performance he gives.  I haven’t seen a character in a long time like Caesar.  The power he holds, the decisions he needs to make, and just the look in his eyes, is perfect throughout the film.  I never thought I would feel so much for a computer generated ape, but the depth to Caesar’s character and performance by Serkis, will make you do that.

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– This isn’t just a sci-fi film about some talking apes.  It goes much deeper than that.  It’s about one family trying to protect themselves from another.  Jason Clarke leads the humans, and although he gives a good performance, the film isn’t really about the humans.  I found myself feeling more for Caesar and his family.  Right from the beginning, Matt Reeves shows the importance of that family, and as the film goes along, you realize that Caesar is just doing what he needs to do to protect them, but at the same time have respect for the human race.

– The score is unbelievable.  Sometimes music can make a good film great, and that’s exactly what it did in this.

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DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES is more than just a film about apes going to war against humans.  It’s a film about doing what it takes to protect a family.  The Caesar character is brilliant.  I hope for many more films in the future with this character.  Andy Serkis deserves so much credit for making this ape come to life.  I also really enjoyed how they connected the film with the first one, really making it like Caesar has grown up in front of our eyes.  Action/Sci-fi isn’t even my genre at all, but when they’re made like this, I’m a fan.

DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES: 8/10

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