Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)
+ Directed by Matt Reeves
+ Written by Mark Bomback, Rick Jaffa
+ Starring Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Andy Serkis
+ 130 mins runtime
+ IMDB Score 8.2
Surpasses its predecessor and defines a new era for our Ape brethren. Contemplative and nightmarish, a must watch!
Review by Phillip Crosby
Simply put, this is how remakes should be done.
If you don’t believe me, watch the trailer to its spiritual predecessor!
Remakes and reboots and reimagenings and whatever buzzword Hollywood fashions next for milking old franchises should really learn from Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. As from the link above, “Battle for the Planet of the Apes” was a lazy sequel, basically utilising tattered costumes and sets, already years old by the time of filming but providing us a glimpse and a concept that tantalised audiences – seeing the struggle for Earth between Man and Ape in the post-apocalyptic wasteland.
Taking a great core concept, and then being able to apply superior acting talent, the best in modern effects and also enough background provided by “Rise of…” to properly create a canvass that the premise flourishes on.
“Dawn of…” is surprisingly smart and sophisticated, much like the Ape counterparts in the film. There’s almost a documentary feel to this film as we see the Apes life after the supposed fall of human civilization. It bears some strong thematical ties with the opening Ape sequence from Stanley Kubricks “2001: A Space Odyssey” with the dawn of man/ape, the new beginnings of using tools to achieve the next step of evolution; there’s even some visual references to other metaphorical morality tales such as “Animal Farm”. The opening hour or so takes it’s time and allows for a sociological and philosophical study of ape society. It’s all very organic, not at all contrived.
Oh, don’t get me wrong. This isn’t just a Truffaut film, this is a totally bad ass Ape on Man action flick. This film just exercises restraint and uses pace to create tension which is all too often missing in big ticket films. There is an ever looming threat which creates much more thrill than seeing a million explosions and mindless action which bears no relevance to story. I mean, who can say that an Ape riding the horse with a riffle isn’t the coolest thing they’ve ever seen? AMIRIGHT?!
All of the Apes are a pleasure to follow in their community, particular highlights are the likes of “Koba” and “Maurice” whose character arcs extend from “Rise of…”. I do wonder if a limitation in the way the apes could communicate forced the director to opt for less frequent and thus stronger dialogue and also rely a lot more on visual story telling. The effects and the detail work on the apes is simply incredible, this is the greatest example of the power of Motion Capture.
“Dawn of…” has a lot of respect for its source, in this case, “Rise of…”. Not only, as mentioned, with character development but also with themes and overall meaning. This movie far surpasses the previous simplistic “Humans Bad!” metaphor and builds out a more reasoned and in depth look at motivation of evil.
This is the end of the Review of the “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”…apologies, couldn’t resist!
How to Improve
Really, you want me to say at least something?
Well, I guess the human characters let the side down (in more than one way *wink wink*). As opposed to their Ape counerparts, each seems to nicely slot into their tropes and it feels like we’re seeing rehashed Walking Dead characters. I’d be in favour of either better written humans or less humans in this picture.
The ending is a little too bombastic. It is entirely justified within the film, which builds up the anticipation for a huge finale, but particular fights took their time which provided most of our story had already been resolved did cause the tiniest bit of fatigue.
Still, monkeys with rifles? Where do I sign?!
Hours to Fix in Post
Never send a man to do an Ape’s job…. 2 bananas!