Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is not only a strong contender for film of the year so far, it is up there as one of the best summer blockbusters of recent years.
Set ten years after the events in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Dawn starts with an opening sequence showing just how much of the world’s human population was wiped out by the Simian Flu.
From then on we see the state of both the human and ape populations in San Francisco. The apes, led by Caesar (Andy Serkis), have created a community in the forest surrounding the city where they continue to thrive. Caesar, now a father, must deal with the dual responsibilities of fatherhood and leadership.
The remaining humans, genetically immune to the disease, have found refuge away from the apes in San Francisco. A party led by Malcolm (Jason Clarke) stumble upon the apes and both species come to the realisation that they are living a lot closer together than they originally thought.
The tension starts to build and to make matters worse, the dam that the humans need access to as a power source is located within the home of the apes. As the tension builds, the two species must learn to either trust one another or carry on fighting.
That tension reaches boiling point due to the conflicting personalities within each species. Caesar and Malcolm are the respective ape and human that feel there is good within the other, whether the rest of their species can see it or not.
On the other hand there is the ape Koba (Toby Kebbell) and human Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) who both feel that there species is superior and should not be made to live amongst one another.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes suffered a bit of a worry when director Rupert Wyatt wouldn’t be returning after the stellar job he did with the first film. Matt Reeves, who was most famous for Cloverfield, was brought in as his replacement and he has produced a sequel that exceeds its predecessor in every way.
I had high expectations for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and they were well and truly met. It is a summer blockbuster that manages to make the narrative its prime focus while still keeping the audience enthralled with some eye-catching spectacle.
The most impressive part of the spectacle are the apes themselves. There seems to have been a major advance in the quality of the effects used in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. A number of scenes in the film are apes communicating in sign accompanied by subtitles and it is simply a joy to watch their every movement.
Andy Serkis once again plays Caesar using motion-capture technology and he does so quite brilliantly. The range of emotion he brings to Caesar is astounding. Serkis himself must spend all day in his motion-capture outfit while acting like Caesar.
Toby Kebbell as Koba also deserves a special mention for his performance using the same motion-capture technology. The performances using this technology is vital to the character and in Kebbell, Serkis has great company. It really is some phenomenal work from the pair of them.
With all the wonderful performances regarding the ape characters, the human cast may go a bit unnoticed. However, there are some fine performances that should be taken note of. Jason Clarke as Malcolm is the stand out one with Gary Oldman bringing the standard quality you would associate with the name Gary Oldman.
With its stunning special effects, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes will get a lot of recognition and deservedly so. Visually the film is gorgeous and this is all thanks to cinematographer Michael Seresin.
Every scene looks perfect, whether it be set in the ape community or back in the rundown San Francisco. Look out for a mesmerising shot amongst the battle between the humans and apes involving a tank and a slow 360 scan of the ongoing carnage, it really will make you sit back in your seat.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes also has a great score by Michael Giacchino. A film’s score can enhance the whole experience for its audience and Giacchino’s work here more than does that. Giacchino brings out both the wonder of the apes continuing evolution and the menace of their aggressive side.
I know this is a big statement but some of Giacchino’s work so far makes me think he can follow in the footsteps of John Williams. Not to put too much pressure on him.
Coming to think of it, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a summer blockbuster that has it all. So get to your nearest cinema and go see it. Quite simply, this is one film you are not going to want to miss.
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