Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
4.5/5 MUST must see SEE
dir Matt Reeves
scr Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Mark Bomback
prd Peter Chernin, Dylan Clark, Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver
with Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Toby Kebbell, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Kirk Acevedo, Nick Thurston, Karin Konoval, Terry Notary, Judy Greer, Jon Eyez
release US 11.Jul.14, UK 17.Jul.14
14/US Fox 2h10
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Leave us alone: Caesar and Blue Eyes (Thurston)

serkis clarke oldman
See also:
Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes An especially tight script and astounding technical wizardry combine to make this sequel a thoroughly engulfing epic. By taking an unusually complex route through a huge conflict, the film is able to resonate on several levels, from the intensely personal emotions to the larger political themes. And it proves that performance-capture technology is proper acting.

It's been 10 years since Caesar (Serkis) and his ape cohorts escaped into the Northern California forest while the simian flu swept the world. Only one in 500 humans survived, and a ragtag San Francisco community is searching for a hydroelectric power source when they stumble into Caesar's village. Malcolm (Clarke) immediately understands Caesar's desire to avoid going to war, but his colleague Carver (Acevedo) and the community's leader Dreyfus (Oldman) are a bit more trigger-happy. And after a lifetime of torture in labs, Caesar's sidekick Koba (Kebbell) finds it impossible to trust men.

The film tells the story through two family units: Caesar's mate Cornelia (Greer) has just given birth to a young brother to older son Blue Eyes (Thurston), who watches what unfolds with worried interest. Meanwhile, Malcolm and his partner Ellie (Russell) are accompanied by his observant teen son Alexander (Smit-McPhee). The clear implication is that, aside from Caesar and Malcolm, perhaps there's more hope in the next generation than this current gang of warmongers.

This approach cleverly forces the audience to sympathise with both sides in the conflict, which vastly ups the stakes for the negotiations, personal interaction and violent outbreaks. And as the clashes escalate, a happy conclusion seems genuinely impossible. But the writers have some interesting ideas up their sleeves, as well as a clear plan for a third episode in this series reboot. They also cleverly echo today's politics in subtle but unmissable ways.

Director Reeves grounds everything in honest realism. The effects work is sometimes frighteningly realistic, as Serkis, Kebbell and company create vividly intense ape characters with internal lives that are astonishingly complex. Communicating through speech but mainly subtitled sign language, they reveal that the humanity's flaws might not be limited to the humans. And as Reeves quietly finds hope in the bleakest situations, the film becomes much more than an effects-based blockbuster. It's a potent look at where we are now and what choices will affect our future.

cert 12 themes, language, violence 11.Jul.14

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