Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is the direct sequel to 2011’s passable Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Taking place 10 years after the events in the first movie, the “Ape Flu” has spread throughout the planet and has killed most of humanity. Meanwhile back in San Francisco, Caesar and his fellow apes are talk with each other through sign language and forming their own society. In the mean meanwhile, some humans have managed to survive in the ruins of San Francisco, somewhere in the middle the two societies meet… dun dun dunnnnn.
The good; first and foremost, the special effects. The motion capture done with Andy Serkis is amazing. Those apes look really good, after the opening credits we open up on a close up of Caesar’s eyes, and it’s very well done.
Then we have the world that we’re going to be in for the next hour and a half. The world building done here is very good, you have the Ape society and how they live; there’s a hierarchy, daily life, school, “healer” apes, hunters, and language. It all makes sense cause they took the time to make it make sense.
Jason Clarke as Malcolm is great, Clarke does a great job bringing us to understand motivation, not only in his own character but in the humans as a whole. What otherwise could’ve been a simple plot device really worked well for me.
Then you have Michael Giacchino‘s score, at the beginning of the movie there’s this very retro sound to the music, it’s like he’s channeling the old Planet of the Apes movies, I loved it. Then as the movie progresses we get the epic quality we’ve come to expect from Giacchino.
The bad; the special effects, I know I mentioned this above, but it’s a double edged sword.
The example that really sticks out is the baby Ape, there’s a scene where the humans are interacting with the baby and it just doesn’t look as good.
Then the opening sequence is a hunting party scene where the Apes are hunting whatever’s in the forest for food. On one side you have the Apes above, in the trees, stalking their prey, down below you have the deer unaware of death from above.
Then in a scene similar to The Gladiator, hell is unleashed and the Apes descend on to their prey. I marveled at the eye candy displayed before me… but I couldn’t help but wonder how much render time this took. Cause sure it’s epic and looks amazing, but it doesn’t beat the real thing. If it was a bunch of actors in rubber masks running through the forest, that’s still a bunch of actors in rubber masks running through the forest. Where this scene was all created in the computer. But that’s just my old-school way.
There’s a throw away line about how the humans that are alive and surviving are genetically immune to the flu virus that ravaged the planet, I dunno… I’d like a little more please? Just a little sumthin’?
*SPOILER* The climax of the movie, in two parts, left me with a tilted head. Malcolm befriends Caesar and helps him to overtake Koba and his command over the Apes. Then you Malcolm has to convince Gary Oldman that the situation can be resolved, he just needs to wait. So Malcolm, who’s had a good rapport with Oldman (leader of the humans) simply draws a gun on him as he’s wiring the foundation of the tower where the Apes are now headquarted… but doesn’t even attempt to explain why he’s doing what he’s doing??? He just holds them hostage! Really? That’s completely against what we’ve built up for these two characters.
Then above, in the tower, you have Caesar going one on one with Koba, and there’s a point where Koba left hanging, Casesar chooses to grab Koba and fling him off to his death… I get it, these are Apes and not humans, but you’re giving them human characteristics. There could’ve been any number of alternatives that ended with Koba’s death… have Caesar attempt to save Koba, but then Koba attacks, letting him fall to his own death. That’s one and I just came up with that right now. What does that ending message say?
And the ending seemed really rushed, they want the next movie to be the literal Planet of the Apes, where the Apes outnumber the humans, but I liked where this movie took us and wanted to spend more time as this world transitioned to one ruled by Apes.*END SPOILERS*
Overall, much better than that first movie. Way to build the world. Even though the third act seemed super rushed, director Matt Reeves has redeemed himself after Cloverfield.