Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes picks up 10 years after the first installment left off. Man has been nearly wiped out by the virus that they were using to experiment on the apes in the first place. The apes have moved into the mountains to build a new life for themselves while the humans turn on each other and are now becoming desperate for fuel and power. The power part, they discover, could be solved by the hydro-electric dam that’s in the ape’s territory. Man and ape collide.

I had a lot of trouble with the Tim Burton vision of the original concept, this film soars far beyond the points where the other film fell tragically short. The film is very well written with a tight script that has some great big moments along with moments of high tension and emotion on both the ape side and the human side of the main story. The dialog is often told through sub-titles as the apes sign to each other and only occasionally speak, which helps make the concept feel more natural.

Speaking of things feeling natural, the design and effects are stunning with a sense of realism that makes you take the appearance of the apes and the environment completely for granted as if everything really exists. WETA (Peter Jackson’s effects company) were behind the effects for the first film and they build an even more ambitious presentation this time out. Andy Serkis plays Caesar doing the motion cap and facial expression performances that emote through the 3D version of the character.

The lineup includes Jason Clarke, Keri Russell, and Gary Oldman. All the actors turn in strong performances giving convincing, passionate performances. I thought Keri Russell and Gary Oldman were especially engaging on screen with Caesar being the most fascinating.

If you liked the first film and want to see where the story goes, I strongly recommend seeing this one. I really enjoyed watching this movie in the theater, it’s one of those films that’s great on the big screen.

reviewed by Sean McKnight