Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – Review
All hail Caesar; all hail Caesar; all hail Caesar and all hail “The Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, a bold, creative, imaginative, daring, sensitive, mature and at times very violent story of our closest primate relative ascending to human like intelligence, traits and emotional love, as well as our weaknesses including unfortunately temptation, jealousy and thirst for power.
The film starts up 10 years after the Apes rampage escape across the Golden Gate Bridge to their primordial desire of having a life away and culturally separate from humans in the northern California forests. Caesar in this 2014 installment has risen well beyond the level of being simply a leader as now we find his stature has risen to that of almost royalty with unquestioning respect from what now is a large Ape family and tribe numbering in the hundreds. His vison for his tribe is to prosper and to learn those things that he deems necessary to have a better life than his human counterparts who from his perspective always comes undone through the violence they perpetuate against each other. And it is from this central mistrust he has of humans that Caesar has one overwhelming mandate that all apes must abide, “Apes do not kill Apes”.
Meanwhile in San Francisco proper the humans are trying to rebuild their lives after a virus plague has wiped out virtually most of the global population. They too are looking to rebuild their culture, but unlike the apes they still have a need for technology to survive. And it is their need to generate electrical power for their apocalyptic city that we find the conflict between humans and apes will come to bare in the telling of this story.
What is so incredible about DOTPOTA is that the Apes in this film will literally play tricks on your mind in that you don’t feel or sense that what is on the screen is computer recreated; they look and feel real with astonishing detail that at times seem eerily intimate as any real life species could be seen on the big screen. This film is certain to garner Oscar nominations in set design, make up and technical special effects and would not surprise me at all if it wins.
Also, in the first half the film through the guidance of Director Matt Reeves and its CGI technical wizardry there is an incredible adroit touch for emotional intimacy and human nuance that made the first half of the film some of the best work I have seen this year in film. Its brainy, game changing visually, dazzling thrilling action sequences, a smart story and showcases an appreciation for moral gravity and moral consequences. It is in in the second half where the film takes a bit of a conventional turn I liken it to where “Koba” the ape becomes a mixture of “Fredo of the Godfather aka the outlaw Billy The Kid aka Richard the III”. Also, the humans in this film overall seem at times a lot less interesting than Caesar and his family, and when the obvious full throated conflict finally takes hold in the second half the movie tends to lose some of the emotional heart felt magic that it so creatively gave us in its introduction.
At its core DOTPOTA is about family and the need for all families to provide and protect for one another at all cost and it is with the Directors very dexterous handling and execution of this plot point of this imaginative story that I loved this movie a lot and recommend it highly for all to see.
Finally if the Academy of Arts and Science had any courage they will remember actor Andy Serkis as Caesar, who gives an absolutely amazing performance as the central Ape character. He’s able to convey such emotion with his physical movement and eyes, emotional tenderness with his limited vocabulary and strength of character through his presence that I had to remind myself time and time again while writing this very review that I was actually watching a human actor under all that special effects.
Everyone who reads this must absolutely see DOTPOTA on the big screen. And while I will say the 3D is not necessary, it is far more worthy of your time to see it on a big screen which will bring to you an unbelievable visual movie going experience.
This is this summer’s best action thriller that you must see.