Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – USA, 2014 – reviews

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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a 2014 American science fiction film directed by Matt Reeves and starring Andy Serkis, Gary Oldman, Jason Clarke, and Keri Russell. It is the sequel to the 2011 film Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which began 20th Century Fox’s reboot of the original Planet of the Apes series. It is the eighth film in the franchise.

Plot:

A growing nation of genetically evolved apes led by Caesar is threatened by a band of human survivors of the devastating virus unleashed a decade earlier. They reach a fragile peace, however 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…

Review:

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is that rarest of things – the thinking person’s blockbuster. It’s intelligent, provocative and skilfully crafted by director Matt Reeves, who is able to allow the story to build fluidly without having to rush to the spectacle.

In a strange sort of way, it feels like a film that is benefitting from the new wave of television shows – a strange comment perhaps, but this has the thoughtfulness and sense of purpose that you rarely get in cinema now, as if it knows it is part of a much bigger tale.

While it works as a stand-alone movie, I suspect it’s real place will be in the grander scheme of things once the story reaches a conclusion. Let’s hope this mixture of intelligence and epic scope continues as the new Apes franchise develops.

David Flint, MOVIES & MANIA

Other reviews:

” …this vivid, violent extension of humanoid ape Caesar’s troubled quest for independence bests its predecessor in nearly every technical and conceptual department, with incoming helmer Matt Reeves conducting the proceedings with more assertive genre elan than “Rise” journeyman Rupert Wyatt.” Variety

“There are moments in the movie of brilliant visual shorthand and iconographic imagery; awesome visual and audio nods to sci-fi greats like Stanley Kubrick (Oscar-winner Michael Giacchino’s score shines in such moments); action set pieces that are thankfully more competent (but still just as epic and gorgeous) as Michael Bay’s Transformers; even comedy and horror beats that are extremely effective at keeping things light and scary, respectively.” Screen Rant

Gary-Oldman-in-Dawn-of-the-Planet-of-the-Apes

“… a fairly monotonous sci-fi adventure … Serkis and Kebell peering out from beneath digitized fur and prosthetics impart far more emotion than their human counterparts. Unfortunately, there’s not much of a story to justify the two-hour-plus running length, and the battle royal between Caesar and Koba atop an abandoned skyscraper proves more cartoonish than cathartic.” CinemaDope

“There’s evident patience and intelligence to the filmmaking all over, as well as an engagement with genuine ideas about diplomacy, deterrence, law and leadership. However often it risks monkey-mad silliness, it’s impressively un-stupid. Virtuoso flourishes aside, not once does Reeves feel like he’s constructed a scene merely to flaunt how good the effects are…” The Daily Telegraph

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“Admittedly, there are some amazing scenes that take place. The battle scene is epic. I’m hard pressed to say whether it’s better than the Golden Gate bridge sequence in Rise, but if you’re willing to buy that chimps can ride horseback while brandishing machine guns in both hands, you’re in for a treat … Essentially, this is a 45 minute film padded into two-plus hours.” IndieWire

“On a purely visual level, the apes look 100 percent authentic, terrifying in their barbarous strength yet strangely comforting in the film’s more tender moments …There are even a few comedic points where the ape cast draw on “performing monkey” stereotypes only to then juxtapose them with calculating savagery and shocking violence, and both takes work perfectly.” Wired (UK)

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

“Forget motion-capture, this is motion-rapture. Meanwhile, Oscar-winning composer Michael Giacchino (Up) finds some extraordinary piano notes to emphasise contemplative silence as much as imminent threat. Burning torches, flaming silhouettes and horse-riding primates echo Frankenstein (1931) meeting a new kind of movie: Apemen of the Apocalypse. Wow!” Liverpool Echo

Humans:

  • Jason Clarke as Malcolm
  • Gary Oldman as Dreyfus
  • Keri Russell as Ellie
  • Kodi Smit-McPhee as Malcolm’s son
  • Jocko Sims as Werner
  • Kirk Acevedo as Carver
  • Kevin Rankin as McVeigh
  • Keir O’Donnell as Finney
  • J. D. Evermore as Sniper

Apes:

  • Andy Serkis as Caesar
  • Judy Greer as Cornelia
  • Terry Notary as Rocket
  • Karin Konoval as Maurice
  • Toby Kebbell as Koba
  • Doc Shaw as Ash

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