Moviegoers, prepare to lose yourselves.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, taking place some 10 years after the events of its outstanding predecessor– Rise of the Planet of the Apes– is a landmark film for the 21st Century… And much of its success lies in the hands of ape leader Caesar– played brilliantly by Andy Serkis.
Under Caesar’s leadership, the apes have procreated, made a home and maintained peace… All the while believing the human race eradicated by the fatal Simian Flu from the first film.
For the most part, the primates are correct. When a small group of genetically immune humans mistakenly trespass into their territory searching for resources– one overzealous, bitter human crosses the line… Initiating the climactic Ape vs Human war for survival. Despite this, the “good” humans (Jason Clarke, Keri Russell and Kodi Smit-McPhee) attempt to form an alliance with Caesar and his family– with the hope of maintaining peace and securing the future of humankind. But the path to peace is never easy… And the Ape Nation erupts in an internal struggle between factions loyal to Caesar and those simians who still fear humans.
After a brief synopsis of the past decade (mostly played over the opening credits), Dawn of the Planet of the Apes immediately plunges viewers into a fascinating world run by simians… Made all the more impressive by the most spellbinding use of CGI ever seen on film.
I could not take my eyes off of the apes throughout the entire movie. Between the unbelievable detailing, realistic textures + a fantastic use of motion capture technology– Dawn of the Planet of the Apes works in every way imaginable… And it is absolutely intoxicating to watch. The carefully plotted ape movements– and their expressive eyes and mannerisms– repeatedly tricked my brain into thinking I was watching live animals on the big screen.
But as incredibly realistic as the apes are, they were also extremely human in nature– further illustrating their genetic advancement. Though much of their screen time is spent without spoken words of any kind, the wonders of the film’s motion capture technology allow the primates to communicate with each other (and the audience) using body/sign language, telling facial expressions and incredible emotion. The power Caesar/Serkis commands in this film constantly left me in awe.
Gary Oldman (perfect as ever as the overbearing Dreyfus) leads the human survivors through post-apocalyptic life. Heavy on ammunition and wealthy in numbers, the encampment is about to run out of the resources necessary to keep the electricity on. A dam located within ape territory is the key to human survival, and only Malcolm (an empathetic Clarke) has the guts to approach and become an ally to the intimidating apes. On the opposite side lies Koba (now played by actor Toby Kebbell)– an ape left physically and mentally scarred by human-led laboratory experimentation. He refuses to cooperate with Caesar’s allegiance to man, embarking on his own vendetta.
The themes resonating throughout Dawn are familiar to any fans of films that deal with the sad facts of war and hard-fought peace– but here everything feels far more visceral and raw. There is no “dominant race” in this future– firepower and intelligence no longer makes humanity superior. Every living being in this film is equally affected by the fragility of trust, community and power. My heart lurched every time bonds were built and broken on both sides of the struggle– never knowing what was going to happen next.
I became more and more emotionally invested in the characters as the film progressed and held onto my passion until the final frame. Dawn of the Planet Apes has it all: Moments of jaw dropping devastation, scenes of tear-jerking intimacy and even surprising amusement.
In short, this film made me fall deeply in love with the magic of movies all over again. Walking out, I knew instinctively that I had just found my new favourite film of 2014. – Danielle Young