Dawn of the Planet of the Apes — MOVIE REVIEW


Andy Serkis as Caesar in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

So back in 2011, I went into Rise of the Planet of the Apes expecting a silly movie about apes. I went in thinking that it had the possibility of being but at the end of the day, it would still be a movie about apes. I walked out of that one pleasantly surprised. Not only because I usually dislike James Franco in most of his movies and he wasn’t so bad that time around, but because it was just a good movie. Plus, it had one badass moment that still gives me goosebumps to this day. But now it is 3 years later, and it is time for the sequel. I kind of went in to this movie with the same mindset as before. After all, it’s still a movie about a bunch of apes. But I was so wrong to go in with that mindset. This movie deserves much more respect because it really is that good.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes takes place quite a bit after the last movie (ten years, I believe) and the human race is in shambles. All that is left is the semi-large group of human who were “genetically immune” to the Simian Flu that wiped out the planet. But the apes are striving. In their woods, they have built a home. They are raising families, teaching the children, and even have developed their own code as apes. “Ape does not kill ape” is one that comes to mind. They have their own little schools and stuff. It is quite impressive how detailed they went with the apes. You spend a good 20 minutes with these primates before you even see a human character.

The story picks up when you meet the group of humans. The main group consists of Malcolm (Jason Clarke), Dreyfus (Gary Oldman), Ellie (Keri Russell), Carver (Kirk Acevedo), and Alexander (Kodi Smit-McPhee). They all are looking for a way to restore power to the city so that they can try to rebuild their world. But in order to do that, they need to use the dam which happens to be in ape territory. Then you get the humans and apes not trusting each other and it goes from there.

I love how this movie take its time. It doesn’t rush into the humans vs. apes concept. It takes its time developing these characters; the apes and the humans. You get to see the dynamic Caesar (Andy Serkis) has with most of his kind and just how badass he is. You also see the humans get fleshed out, mainly Malcolm and Ellie. But clearly due to the events in the first film, Caesar isn’t as distrusting of the humans as his fellow ape named Koba (Toby Kebbell) is. Koba had been experimented on by the humans in the first one and he is damaged by it. He has literal scars that remind him of the humans he knows them to be. Where Caesar, knows that not all of them are evil and that some can be trusted. And this whole apes versus humans thing can be seen as a racial thing. How radical groups that hate a certain race react in the presence of them. I can see how people make that connection, but I didn’t really need to look that much into it.

This movie knows what it wants to be. It doesn’t want to be a silly movie with loud action scenes that look cool. Yes, the CGI is some of the best I have ever seen. The apes look so real, it is almost mind blowing. But that doesn’t mean they go all-in just for the action scenes. The action scenes they have are very well shot and not too loud or jumpy. This movie definitely has its’ action but it focuses on the characters, their development, and the overall story. I love movies that know what is most important. You can have an action movie or a suspense movie while still having the key elements that make a movie truly good. Those kind of movies can still have great characters and story. And Dawn has it all. Great characters, development, and a great story. What is great about it is that it keeps you on your toes. Just when I thought I knew what was going to happen, they surprise me. And that happened numerous times during the movie.

The action scenes looked amazing. The dramatic scenes really were dramatic and struck a couple chords with me. It took its time and it wasn’t too long or too short; but just right. This is a smart movie in every way. There obviously will be more sequels based on where this one ends; and if they are going to make movies of this high quality, then I will watch whatever damn movie they put out there. I’m in. Dawn really impressed me and I want to go see it again. Yes, it is that good.

Andy Serkis’ acting is completely underrated. Just because he does a lot of motion capture, that doesn’t detract from his acting. When Caesar is happy, sad, in pain, or pissed; you can tell. You can look at his face and just know. That is all Andy Serkis. His work in this movie is flat out amazing. I won’t be the first one to say this and I won’t be the last: Andy Serkis deserves some kind of award for his work. Not only in this movie but also in The Lord of the Rings movies and also King Kong. He is the go-to guy for these types of roles and he has changed the game for future movies with the work he does. Tremendous acting from him and Toby Kebbell, who play’s the “dick” of the apes. They both try and steal scenes from each other. But they both are excellent throughout the entire movie.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes isn’t just a good movie; it’s a great one. It has a great story with phenomenal storytelling. It has amazing and well-layered characters on both the human and ape sides. I love that this movie does everything the right way. It has great action that takes up about a quarter of the run time, but what stands out is the build up and the actions of the characters. And what is best is that you see why the characters act the way they do, because they are fleshed out. It really is a treat to watch, because it does everything right. Great acting, especially from Serkis and Kebbell, and great direction as well. See this movie. You won’t regret it. It is definitely one of the best movies I’ve seen this year so far, which is hard for a summer blockbuster to do in my eyes.

Cast:

Andy Serkis as Caesar
Jason Clarke as Malcolm
Toby Kebbell as Koba
Keri Russell as Ellie
Gary Oldman as Dreyfus
Kodi Smit-McPhee as Alexander
Kirk Acevedo as Carver
Nick Thurston as Blue Eyes

WHAT I LIKED:

+: Andy Serkis as Caesar. Holy cow, you can see every facial reaction and twitch on Caesar’s face. It is amazing to see. The work he does can not be talked about enough. Him and Toby Kebbell bring their A-game and you can tell. Koba, as much of a dick as he is, has his reasons and it is fun to see Toby Kebbell have fun with the character.

+: The CGI. You will  never once say that the apes look fake. Even holding shotguns and riding horses, these apes look real as if they were a foot from you in a zoo. This is some of the best CGI I have seen yet in a movie.

+: The human characters actually served a purpose and were fleshed out for a change. Having great characters on both sides really adds a lot to this movie. Jason Clarke does well in his role, as does Oldman and Russell. Oldman has his one scene where you can see everything the man has been through just from one image. And Keri Russell is always likable.

+: The soundtrack. Especially at the end. It really gets you pumped and excited. The music helps keep you on the edge of your seat. And it will keep you there until the final seconds when the score gets really awesome. Then it just makes you want more.

+: A great story, great characters, amazing character development, and fantastic storytelling are the focus. And they are all done right simultaneously. It is a breath of fresh air when everything works on all levels.

+: The patience the movie has with itself. Meaning that the movie goes at its’ own pace. It needs to set up and build up a lot, so there is a good stretch that is focused primarily on the ape camp and it stays there. The patience and natural flow of those scenes really add a lot of weight to the later ones.

+: Loved the callback to James Franco’s character

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