Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Dawn of the Planets of the Apes (Matt Reeves, 2014) Review

I know! I know! I've been slacking on my reviews. Last week was only a top ten. My lame excuse this time is that I've been moving around a bit. Now that I'm settled, I can get back to more film reviews...hopefully. I think the film Guardians of the Galaxy being on the horizon has put me back into the mood of films after this hectic month. In the mean time, I managed to see Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, a film that wasn't high on my priority list......but looking back after seeing it, it really should have been. This review will tell you why.

10 years after the events of the first film, the virus epidemic has spread world wide and wiped out most of the human race. This leaves a clan of intelligent apes, led by Caeser (Andy Serkis), to build their own civilization by themselves. Things change for the apes when discover a group of humans scouting the woods in search of a dam that can power their makeshift base in an abandoned San Francisco. The leader of the humans, Dreyfus (Gary Oldman), sends the group out again, headed by Malcolm (Jason Clarke), to reason with Caeser and compromise for use of the dam. Caeser's willingness to co-operate causes a stir with his own pack as his best friend Koba (Toby Kebbell) starts to question his decisions and finds his won methods of dealing with the human's presence.

2014 is truly a fantastic year for film. Captain America: The Winter Soldier, How to Train Your Dragon 2, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The LEGO Movie and we can now add Dawn of the Planet of the Apes to that list. Naturally, Andy Serkis is wonderful as he reprises his role a Caeser from the first film and the expanded cast of apes helps make it even more awe-inspiring to see the large amount of well done CGI creations. The choice of motion capture is still a great one and this works well for Koba's actor Tony Kebbell (who replaces the original actor from the first film) who also delivers a strong performance that stands against Serkis. The humans are also well cast. Gary Oldman as the leader Dreyfus is arguably the most sympathetic character in the film. That scene with his photos really was heart wrenching. I was a bit sceptical of Jason Clarke at first since it did seem like he would try to replace James Franco as the "only good human" role but he does find his own identity in this mad world, much better than the likes of  Aaron Taylor-Johnson in Godzilla.

At 2 hours and 10 minutes, I was a bit worried that this film would end up dragging, especially because the trailers didn't focus on much except for the fighting. I'm actually glad that the trails didn't give much away at all. In fact, it manipulates the film to make it look different to how it actually is, especially the portrayal of Dreyfus. I'm also glad it takes a non bias stance on the human/ape argument. Rise of the Planet of the Apes was very one sided by making humans the devil. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes shows that there are good and bad on each side and doesn't make you feel bad about which you sided with....unlike Avatar (the lackluster film, not the god-like TV show).

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a surprisingly mature film considering it involves scenes with apes riding horses firing machine guns..it's as awesome as it sounds. It's unbiased and handles its characters and their development well. Koba is especially well developed. The CGI is also amazing and the acting accompanying this is magnificent. This is another film to add to this plethora of amazing films this year. Here's hoping Guardians of the Galaxy is just as good as the rest of them as it's shaping up to be.

Apes...riding horses....firing machine guns. That is all.

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