Cert: 12A Runtime: 130 mins Director: Matt Reeves Cast: Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Keri Russell, Toby Kebbell, Kodi Smit-McPhee and Gary Oldman
Caesar loves humans more than apes!
Rupert Wyatt gave us one of the greatest prequels ever to grace cinema, Rise of the Planet of the Apes. This great franchise has been around since 1968, Rise gave it a breath of fresh air. Due to it’s success we were not surprised of hearing about another film. Dawn originally had Wyatt at the helm, but due to the short space of time before release. He believed his vision couldn’t be brought to life, in came Cloverfield’s Matt Reeves. What is Dawn all about then? Ten years have passed since apes and men went their separate ways after the battle of the Golden Gate Bridge. Mankind has been all but wiped out by the simian flu. Caesar (Andy Serkis), meanwhile, leads an evolving, peaceful ape society in the depths of San Francisco’s Muir Woods. When a band of human survivors stumble across the ape village, Malcolm (Jason Clarke) and Ellie (Keri Russell) are eager to promote peace between these former enemies. But they reckon without hot-headed survivalist Dreyfus (Gary Oldman), who leads an army of soldiers and is hell-bent on revenge!
“Dawn” is a well done sequel. It builds on the themes and motifs of the first one. For themes, we see the scars of animal cruelty (both physical and psychological) and the importance of family. The mirror imaging of families between the apes and humans was a great touch.Thanks to the modern visual effects, it feels like the eyes are the window into the souls of these apes. “Dawn” has great motion capture visual effects. Its a stunning and visual treat. The opening scene with the apes hunting is very exciting. The apes look and feel real. Serkis is great as Caesar yet again. Although he is replaced by beautiful visual effects, he captures the movement and voice of Caesar so well and gives him a soul. Caesar is just visual effects, but Serkis gets you to feel Caesar’s love and pain. This film is about fathers and sons. It’s about generations and the violence we continue to pass down somehow. Caesar symbolizes the best of humanity while Koba represents human cruelty. These ideas battle themselves out both verbally and physically. It can be tragic at times.
There is a storyline with the humans played out by Jason Clarke, Keri Russell, and Gary Oldman and they all are fine even though they feel more like stock characters at times. I think the film is at its best when we are with the apes dominate the screen though. We saw Caesar, Koba, and Maurice in “Rise” and we get to watch them grow. We get new ape characters like Blue Eyes and Ash that we start to care for. I was more interested in the ape side of the story and sympathized with them more. Michael Seresin’s cinematography captures the grand scale of the film. Michael Giacchino’s score is really good for the most part, but there are times where I thought it may have been a little exaggerated or distracting. Giacchino’s score does a wonderful job of capturing the essence of the small and important moments though. I do have a few negatives about “Dawn”, first of all not enough Gary Oldman, this is just me being picky but I worship this man. Like I have said “Dawn” is good, not quite excellent. I left the cinema rather hollow expecting more of it. I am not quite sure what it is yet, but I am aiming to watch it again and see if I can see what was missing. Reeves’ “Dawn” is a good follow-up to “Rise” and does what a sequel should do, build on the first and explore new areas of the universe it set up. It’s smart and has great visual effects. “Dawn” is emotionally engaging and exciting.