Published on July 20th, 2014 | by Tim Cooper
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (3D) – Film Review
Reviewed by Tim Cooper on July 18th, 2014
20th Century Fox presents a film by Matt Reeves
Produced by Peter Chernin, Dylan Clark, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver
Written by Mark Bomback, Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver
Starring: Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell and Andy Serkis
Music by Michael Giacchino
Cinematography: Michael Serisin
Editing by William Hoy and Stan Salfas
Running Time: 130 minutes
Release Date: July 9th, 2014
The original Planet of the Apes (1968) was a film synonymous with its star Charlton Heston. In recent years the much loved class has had two prequels with a fresh face of Hollywood stars. Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) and now the follow up Dawn of the Planet of the Apes are prequels to the classic and they have brought the apes back in all their computer generated glory. James Franco starred in the first offering as Will Rodman, a scientist obsessed with curing Alzheimer’s through genetic experiments on apes. The experiments propelled the laboratory apes thousands of years forward in evolution into a walking, talking and fighting army. The side effects for the human race have produced a mutated disease so deadly to mankind that it has brought the beginning of the end for our entire civilization.
There are going to be two people that enjoy this ape extravaganza; fans of the original that have no issue with computer generated imagery, or ape and animal lovers who will relish the detail and personality with which the ape characters have been crafted. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a film completely saturated in special effects. All the apes are CG and many of the films sets are enhanced with digital work. If you a film fan who doesn’t enjoy this kind of work you will not get much out of this work. Others more at home with digital filmmaking will be immersed in the world a lot easier. On the human side of things Gary Oldman adds some class to the proceedings as a human leader Dreyfus. Jason Clarke is Malcom the ape sympathiser; his aim is to have both the humans and apes living together in harmony. Filling out the cast is Andy Serkis in the motion capture role of Caesar the ape. Since The Lord of the Rings and his turn as Gollum, Serkis is now the go to guy for motion capture roles and it shows beautifully in this film. His movement combination of human/ape for Caesar is a beautiful bridge of style between the two worlds. Keri Russell and Judy Greer add some substance to the human side of things but are mostly overshadowed by some incredibly realistic looking apes. By the end of the film the apes are clearly recognisable as characters due character specific things like to scars, fur colour and strangely enough well-crafted personalities.
The opening scene unfortunately remains the highlight for the entire film. This scene is suspenseful and beautiful to look at. Strangely and to much disappointment the FX are used to greater effect here than they are throughout the film, even during the final battle. The climax of the film actually goes so far off the rails it is impossible not to laugh. Gun-toting apes in slow motion isn’t a thing of cinematic beauty, it just plain hilarious. These moments will divide many viewers and seem too far out of place in tone to the rest of the film. Despite the films over the top moments it is paced very well and keeps viewers engaged at a steady and well planned blockbuster pace. There are some well written social and political commentaries underlined in the script which is affirming to see in a film from this series.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a more enjoyable film than its predecessor and it will be an enjoyable romp for many. In as many places this films tries so hard to be serious it also unfortunately manages to be humorous as well. This is not necessarily a bad thing, it just doesn’t seem like it was director Matt Reeves intentions. All credit must be given to the computer effects team who have excelled in their work and crafted some beautifully developed ape characters. As far as photo realism computer effects, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes has some magnificent moments but as a whole CGI isn’t at total realistic representation yet. This is another prequel that really didn’t need to be made but might get viewers thinking about the original again while also turning on some new fans to the 1968 classic, and that can only be a good thing.
Summary: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a more enjoyable film than its predecessor.