Genre: Drama, Science Fiction, Action.
Starring: Andy Serkis, Toby Kebbell, Nick Thurston, Karin Konoval, Terry Notary, Doc Shaw, Judy Greer, Lee Ross, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Kirk Acevedo, Jon Eyez, Enrique Murciano, Jocko Sims, Keir O’Donnell, Kevin Rankin, Lombardo Boyar.
Year Of Release: 2014
Certificate: 12A (UK)
Runtime: 131 Minutes
Director: Matt Reeves
Synopsis: “Ten years after a pandemic disease, apes who have survived it are drawn into battle with a group of human survivors.” IMDB
After 2001’s horrible attempt at a revival in the franchise, they saved it in 2011 with Rupert Wyatt’s “Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes” brining in WETA Digital in order to create a more realistic look than actors wearing suits. WETA also returned to make the apes in the Dawn even better than Rise.
I personally was a little apprehensive I thought the 2011 revival was less than desirable, I found the apes to be a below the standard expected in the modern blockbuster. However this time around in Dawn, the apes were incredible, if you were to watch not knowing they were CG, you would believe easily that these were real apes. Which really helps buy into the story, you feel like these apes truly are apes that have started evolving to rival humans, given they have been evolving rapidly over the 10 years since the ape revolution.
Some of the motion capture performances in Dawn were incredible, stand outs in that bracket well, obviously one had to be Andy Serkis, we all know he is the go to man for mocap and this film is no different for others. The other stand out was Toby Kebbell who is a newbie to the franchise playing the returning Koba (played by Christopher Gordon in Rise), Kebbell was phenomenal as Koba this time around, Koba is physically and mentally broken and Kebbell shows that in his performance it oozes intimidation and fear in equal measure, up there with some of the great performances by Serkis himself in my opinion.
The complete contrast of Serkis’ Ceaser an ape of compassion, love and understanding to Kebbel’s Koba was an incredible watch on the big screen. Their performances really help you feel like you’re watching apes, something Rise was lacking I found. The technical heights (even literally) that Dawn reaches are incredible, some of the CG in the film will rival the best you have seen.
Not to say that wasn’t a few parts of the film that were a let, one scene that comes to mind included two light machine guns, you have to see to believe the mediocrity of it. It is something you expect to see in a B movie or a spoof film, didn’t really feel right in this blockbuster master-class. Plus the complete under usage of Gary Oldman, in my opinion by far the greatest actor in the film, I mean nobody even comes close to his ability to me, and to under use him was a travesty. Second time this year a huge blockbuster has underused their best actor, “Godzilla” did the same with Cranston.
Overall, the film was a great watch, packed to the rafters with action and drama with a nice splicing of character development. Director Matt Reeves makes the most of all things at his disposal (Oldman excluded) and uses them beautifully making one of those rare occurrences in which a sequel is superior than is predecessor. Highly advise this film, making my excitement for the third more than I ever expected after the first, Matt Reeves has brought a new lease of life to the apes franchise which I’m hoping is a long lasting franchise. If you didn’t like the first I will say Kebbell and Serkis’ performances will blow you away in this film along with the CG and the story.