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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes | reviews, news & interviews

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

War, ooh ooh eee eee aah, what is it good for?

Humankind's desperate struggle for survival is exquisitely rendered in this post-apocalyptic set sequel to 2011's Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Matt Reeves, the director of another end of the world type scenario in found footage film Cloverfield, takes the reins of this smart and attractive franchise and runs confidently with visceral wanton destruction and a blunt message about gun control.

Living a peaceful existence in the wilderness of a San Francisco forest, the apes have carved out a life without humans who they presume have long died out due to the simian flu virus (seen taking hold towards the end of ROTPOTA). But alas, when least expected up trundles a bunch of those pesky humans to tap for a power source on their land. After a period of deliberation, negotiation and intimidation tactics between the species a raging battle begins.

Andy Serkis doffs the motion capture cap as Caesar - the leader of the apes, and he has perfected the skill of working in this medium. The WETA Digital team's effects are seamless and combined with Serkis’s acting beneath the CGI a believable sense of compassion and anger is conveyed. There’s a fierce resistance between Caesar and fellow ape Koba (Toby Kebbell who elevates every project he’s attached to; pictured below right) who are at odds with their views on humans and it is this interspecies warring which provides some of the most compelling viewing. Toby Kebbell excels in both the art of acting the fool and being completely terrifying under his ape guise, enabling the scenes between himself and Serkis to become tightly wound and impactful drama. The humans take somewhat of a back seat but help guide the story along with their meddling and moral turmoil.

dawn of the planet of the apes toby kebbelReeves has evidently closely watched Rupert Wyatt’s first instalment of the franchise, inserting visual reminders of it throughout. From the spectacular opening sequence where we witness ape hunting bear, to the closing one where a hand reaches out to save a life, the mirroring effect resonates in its message about remembering past atrocities that have taken place in the name of war but at the same time instil a distinct sense of déjà vu.

The bleak, dirtied up streets of San Francisco play wonderfully against the harmonious existence of the green simple vista the apes have created for themselves, thanks once again to WETA being so skilled at incredible looking world building. For a film so concerned with learning from past mistakes,however  the fact that the female characters are pushed to the background leaving the males to fight it out centre stage becomes a nagging oversight. Keri Russell, though given the role of a doctor, hovers on the sidelines for most of the film whilst Caesar’s partner Cornelia (Judy Greer) gives birth to a cute chimp, feels a bit sick and that’s about it. In the dawning of a new world, where there should be no set rules on gender roles, women are still sadly getting short changed. For all its strengths, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes sadly proves that sometimes wisdom does walk hand in hand with idiocy.

Overleaf: watch the trailer for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes




Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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