Thursday, 10 July 2014

Film Review: "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" (2014).

“War has... already begun. Ape started war. And human... Human will not forgive. You must go... before fighting begins.”
Which is what is going down in this second installment in the Planet of the Apes reboot franchise, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Directed by Matt Reeves. It is the eighth film in the franchise, and is the sequel to the 2011 film Rise of the Planet of the Apes. The film follows a growing nation of genetically evolved apes led by Caesar when they are threatened by a band of human survivors of the devastating virus unleashed a decade earlier. They reach a fragile peace, but it proves short-lived, as both sides are brought to the brink of a war that will determine who will emerge as Earth's dominant species.

After the release of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, director Rupert Wyatt commented on possible sequels: "I think we're ending with certain questions, which is quite exciting. To me, I can think of all sorts of sequels to this film, but this is just the beginning." Screenwriter and producer Rick Jaffa also stated that Rise featured several clues as to future sequels: "I hope that we're building a platform for future films. We're trying to plant a lot of the seeds for a lot of the things you are talking about in terms of the different apes and so forth." In an interview recorded after the release of Rise, Wyatt stated, "We want to grow and evolve, in the films that will [hopefully] come after this, to the '68 original." Wyatt also stated that he wants it to take place eight years after Rise, as a whole new ape generation can be born, and explore the dynamics of Caesar and Koba's relationship. According to screenwriter Rick Jaffa, a version of the spaceship from the 1968 Planet of the Apes under the name Icarus was in Rise as a deliberate hint to a possible sequel. In November 2011, Andy Serkis was the first to be announced as having closed a deal for a sequel to Rise. On May 15, 2012, it was announced Scott Z. Burns had been hired to do rewrites on the original screenplay by Rise writers Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver. On May 31, 2012, 20th Century Fox announced that the sequel, now titled Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, was scheduled for release on May 23, 2014. On September 17, 2012, there were reports that director Wyatt was considering leaving the sequel due to his concern that a May 2014 release date would not give him enough time to make the film properly. On October 1, Cloverfield (2008) director Matt Reeves was confirmed as his replacement. In December 2012, after the departure of director Wyatt, James Franco speculated he will not be returning for the sequel, saying, "Now Rupert's not a part of it so I don't know. My guess is I won't be in it. Nobody's talked to me since Rupert left." In February 2013, actors Gary Oldman, Jason Clarke, and Kodi Smit-McPhee were cast in lead roles and the sequel set 15 years after the events from the first film. In March 2013, actress Keri Russell was cast in a role. That same month, Judy Greer was cast as Cornelia, a female chimp and love interest for Caesar. Toby Kebbell, Enrique Murciano and Kirk Acevedo joined the cast during filming. On May 15, 2013, Jocko Sims was cast in a supporting role of military operative Werner. Filming began in April 2013 around the town of Campbell River, British Columbia. Filming continued in New Orleans lasting from May 2013 to July 2013. 

The film stars Andy Serkis, Gary Oldman, Jason Clarke, and Keri Russell. The performances in this film were all superbly portrayed. Everybody brought their A game to this film. Which in itself is not an easy task. But the true credits goes to those extraordinary performers portraying the simian characters. Especially to Andy Serkis. His performance was electrifying. Reminiscent to Al Pacino’s performance in The Godfather trilogy. Like his character, he has matured into becoming the leading figure of both on-screen and off-screen. As Matt Reeves said at the 2013 Comic-Con, "In the original films, you wanted to be an ape. In "Rise", you were an ape. You saw through the eyes of Caesar." And that is what Serkis has done. He throws himself completely in this role. We as the audience are able to understand the emotions and the character of Caesar even though he is not a human character. And he was mesmerizing in every scene. That, to me, is a performance that is Oscar-worthy!

Dark, complex and unforgettable, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes succeeds not just as an entertaining science fiction film, but as a richly thrilling cinematic saga. It is a haunting film that leaps beyond its origins and becomes an engrossing tragedy. Like what The Dark Knight (2008) did for the comic-book genre, it redefines the possibilities of the science fiction genre. The film goes much deeper than its predecessor, with a deft script that refuses to scrutinize its hero with popular psychology, instead pulling the viewer in with an examination of Caesar's psyche. The filmmakers move the film away from science fiction cinema and closer to being a genuine work of art, with Reeve's sophisticated direction and the gritty reality of Michael Seresin’s cinematography helping to create a universe that has something raw and elemental within this franchise. Pitched at the divide between art and industry, poetry and entertainment, it goes darker and deeper than any Hollywood movie of its genre kind. Reeves has delivered the most accomplished, mature and the most technically impressive work to his career. The film is nothing short of brilliant. In the annals of sequels, the film is what The Empire Strikes Back (1980) was to Star Wars (1977) - it's that much better. To conclude, the film is a haunting and visionary piece of cinema. The film displays evident patience and intelligence to the filmmaking all over, as well as an engagement with genuine ideas about diplomacy, deterrence, law and leadership. It is not just a good genre movie or a good summer movie. It's a great movie, full-stop, and one of the year's very best movies so far.

Simon says Dawn of the Planet of the Apes receives:

See my review for Rise of the Planet of the Apes at

1 comment:

  1. But I do like the 1977 Star Wars, some of the others have been weak.