I’ve never held my breath throughout an entire movie before, but “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” nearly made me pass out. The film is breathtakingly beautiful in regards to its’ settings and believability with its’ motion capture animation. Matt Reeves masterfully directs each frame, never using one that doesn’t propel the story forward and build it at the same time. This is the tentpole blockbuster that is worthy of your hard earned cash this weekend, and next weekend too!
Picking up ten years after the last film, we find the apes living in the woods and humans bunkered down in a survivor camp. The apes believe all of us are dead until a chance encounter with a group of humans searching the woods sets off the beginning of a rocky relationship between the two camps. Caesar (Andy Serkis) continues to lead his tribe of highly advanced simians, while Malcolm (Jason Clarke) and Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) are the human leaders who want to use the damn on simian turf to bring electrical power back to mankind.
While Caesar and Malcolm are the type of minds that want peace and think of how to accomplish it, Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) and Koba (Toby Kebbell) are the shoot first ask questions later advocates for humans and apes. Although it’s unfortunate that Koba’s character is the “heel” you expect him to be, we see that both apes and humans have a good and dark side.
The film takes on several themes with betrayal, trust, family, and loyalty being a few of those buzzwords. The great part about the movie is that they’re used in ways that help you invest in the story and it’s characters. So while I saw The Prodigal Son, The Godfather, Julius Caesar, and other films in this movie...it was well done. The core themes unfolded but weren’t proselytized to the audience. Sure, there were a few things that you know is coming but you look forward to watching it.
Andy Serkis deserves an Oscar nomination for his work on this film. You can see Caesar’s brilliance in his face as he thinks through multiple outcomes of decisions backwards and forwards in every situation. Like the first film, the ape stories are the ones you want to see and it begins and ends with Serkis’s performance.
This is definitely one of my favorite films thus far in 2014, and is bound to do well this weekend in the box office. If you’re looking for a cinematic experience this movie is it! I guess to use one of Caesar's words, “Gooooooooo!”