I’m breaking my own rule of waiting a day before giving you a movie review, but I had to write this while it was fresh in my mind. Nothing could’ve prepared me for the emotions I felt while watching Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Director Matt Reeves delivers a stellar story of human and simian will. The movie, which stars Andy Serkis as Ceaser, Jason Clarke as Malcolm, Gary Oldman as Dreyfuss and Kerri Russell as Ellie, is like watching an Greek tragedy unfold in front of you. You know how this ends, but don’t, at the same time. Since the 2011 release of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, most fans of the franchise, have been waiting eagerly for the next chapter of this epic science fiction film and now that it’s here, I couldn’t be happier!
Let me be honest, I knew it was going to be good, but I didn’t know it was going to be this good! The script, written by Amanda Silver and Mark Bomback, Scott Z Burns and Rick Jaffa, does go in obvious directions sometimes, but that’s not where the script shines. The interaction between humans and apes i.e humans and cgi, are breathtaking, thanks to an outstanding cast. Everyone is so committed, especially the apes played by some really amazing actors! The most bone chilling performance is given by Toby Kebbell who plays Koba. He’s the scarred chimp from Rise…who Ceaser made an example out of before making him his number two. I never thought I’d see the day when someone could “one-up” Andy Serkis’s performance, then this happened. Koba’s hatred for the humans pervades the whole film. It’s one of those things your waiting to see “break out” and when it does it’s absolutely amazing!
The story picks up where the last one left off, with Ceasar and his, now highly intelligent buddies, living in the forest on the out skirts of San Francisco. Ten years have passed and the serum that made the chimps highly intelligent has wreaked havoc on the human race as the by-product “Simian flu”, decimates the human population, but alas, some have survived and they are creating a new home in the dilapidated ruins of San Francisco. Unbeknownst to the apes and humans, they both have unknowingly enjoyed a truce seeing as how neither have had to encroach on each others territory until the humans, desperate and running low on power, must venture into the forest and try to reactivate a water plant that could supply power to the city. This is when it all goes down. Let’s just say the first encounter with humans in ten years doesn’t go so well and sets the tone for the rest of the film.
For all the action and there is plenty of it, there are some moments that will leave you speechless, As a writer, I kept asking myself what are the writers doing that making me invest so much of myself in this film and I think I know what it is. The dialogue is good, it’s not Shakespeare, but give this dialogue to the right people and it turns into some of the most honest cinema you will ever see. Each character has their moment and those moments are handled with care. It’s so clear that director Matt Reeves needed for this to be a film we are invested in emotionally. Lasting impressions, needed to be made to help usher us into the franchise and Dawn…succeeds at doing this! For instance the choice to use sign language as the main form of communication among the apes was genius. Nothing says drama more than having apes talk using vestiges of human know how. The signing “ups the ante” and brings to the film, this primitive and gentle, energy to the apes. I can’t remember if I felt the same way about the use of sign in the first film, but there’s no question about it’s use in this one. It works brilliantly!
I don’t have anything flowery to say about the film as a whole. It’s a triumph, not unlike Gravity. It’s use of actor, technology and script, is flawless! I would even go as far as to say, some of the shots in this film were clearly designed to show off the visual effects and to remind the world, that very skilled individuals made this happen. Bravo to Matt Reeves for that! Go see this film, it is solid!!