I am little behind on my summer blockbusters this year but the wait was worth it ! It’s no secret that I am a reluctant fan of The Planet Of The Apes movies; some are brilliant, some are terrible and others are poorly executed but they had great concepts, the latest installment in the franchise and second in this current series was mind blowing. Not officially a remake of Battle of the Planet Of the Apes, Dawn has a very similar story. With human civilization in tatters the Apes have found their own home and their own peace, but all of that is threatened when they discover that whats left of San Francisco is populated with humans and this will lead both factions to an unfortunate if not inevitable collusion.
As with many of these films this is a character driven story, which from the trailer would maybe surprise a lot of people but it’s a welcomed and pleasant surprise.The film touches on the conflicting emotions of love and fear. the love we have for our own kind verses the fear of what’s different and how this can lead down dark paths. It’s the curse of sentience, once a species gains the ability to start processing information and making assumptions based on past experiences then we may hope for the best but we secretly assume the worst case scenarios. With both Apes and Humans assuming the worst and in some cases the best of each other the film avoids coming off as preachy, warning us of the evils of man and instead stays pure warning us of the evil of fear.
I really cant say too much more as I don’t want to give anything major away but the story will just suck you in. If the story does not get you hooked then the cast will. Gary Oldman needs mentioned he is a wonderful actor and always brings his A-Game, just sadly we did not see him enough, but when ever he was on screen he is all we could focus on. As for other great humans in the film Jason Clarke really needs mentioned, he is one of the most under rated actors out there, trust me watch Brotherhood. He brings great depth to one could have been a very one sided protagonist, yes he is a man of peace but you can really see he is also a man who has lost a lot. Now I really should mention his support, with the wonderful Keri Russell (The Americans) she brings a whole new level of softness to the film further developing humanity’s struggle to fit in in this new world, with her struggles to fit-in in her own life. Another pleasant surprise was Kodi Smit-McPhee, we all remember him from The Road and his acting chops have just grown and grown, its good to see him still working.
We have mentioned the human but I suppose the apes need mentioned. These performances are Oscar Worthy. The body language each ape brings, yes augmented by the CGI, but not possible without it, is astounding. Andy Serkis another great under appreciated actor steals the show in every scene that he is in, lucky you never had him and Oldman together I wouldn’t know what to do. the technology was perfectly used and almost life like. The tech and cast are only part of this beautiful piece of art, the sets need mentioned as well, from a tree fort that would make ewoks envious to the ruins of San Francisco, the sets alone would take you a journey and added in with everything else really let you forget about the world you live in and focus instead on the world ahead of you.
All this makes a good picture but what really makes this picture great is the directing. there are huge chunks of absolutely nothing being said with the apes communicating in a form of sign language, though when they talk its just awesome. There is so much that is said by the scenes that words alone are not enough. Not to mention some great camera work, especially during the climatic battle, you will see one great panoramic view that shows so much in such a short time. The level of detail is wonderful. Not to mention the revisiting of set from the first film and subtle references to older films in the franchise, its easy to see why they are already making a third film in the series. Hopefully the next installment will have this films gripping levels of emotion that could easily bring someone to tears mixed with heart pounding action and excellent cinematography.