‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ Movie Review – What We Should Expect
Critics – myself included – tend to bash summer blockbusters. For every time I have personally complained about Hollywood’s obsession with sequels and non-original films, there tends to be an exception that I adore. It has already happened three times this year with Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Godzilla, and X-Men: Days of Future Past. Go ahead and add Matt Reeves’ (Cloverfield) Dawn of the Planet of the Apes to this list and the blockbusters continue to prove me (and others) wrong. There are some blockbusters (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes included) that legitimately deserve to be in the same conversation as the end of the year films.
Taking place roughly ten years after the events of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes starts with a montage catching us up on exactly what has happened in those ten years. In a nutshell, the virus that was released at the end of Rise has spread globally and decimated the population. The world has turned into a barren wasteland after a complete collapse.
Instead of humans ruling the world, the new generation of apes led by Caesar (motion-captured again by Andy Serkis) control the land. However, right when the apes think they are safe from the humans, a group of survivors looking for a power source interrupt the apes’ colony.
I mentioned in my review of Transformers: Age of Extinction that sometimes it is the non-human characters that have to drive a film. This worked to some degree in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, but the non-human characters in Dawn blow even that movie out of the water
The best characters are the apes. Who would’ve thought something as trivial – and laugh-out-loud funny – as a planet infested by apes would catch on? Mark Bomback’s script found an original way to portray the apes while exploring so many different issues, including if humans are good or evil (something overdone recently) or whether they deserve to rule the earth.
There are so many ways to take the various interactions in the film. The meatiest relationship isn’t between Malcolm (Jason Clarke) and Caesar like I would’ve guessed. Instead, it is between Caesar and his rival adviser, Koba (motion-captured by Toby Kebbell), and you have to wonder how much of their rivalry is natural or learned.
As the closest descendant to humans, I completely understand why primates are used. In fact, I highly suggest checking out Project Nim if you want a real-life example of how similar the two species are. These projects, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes included, explore just what “human nature” is, but more importantly, how dangerous human nature can be.
I feel like a broken record when I continually point out things that work in movies. There has to be a story. Check. There needs to be characters we care about. Check. It has to be entertaining. Check, check, check (I can’t believe I didn’t get an opportunity to again compliment the visual effects). Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is precisely the reason we should continue buying tickets to summer blockbusters. It’s too bad this isn’t always the case.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is out in wide release. Check it out now and sound-off below in the comments section.
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