StorylineA growing nation of genetically evolved apes led by Caesar is threatened by a band of human survivors of the devastating virus unleashed a decade earlier. They reach a fragile peace, but it proves short-lived, as both sides are brought to the brink of a war that will determine who will emerge as Earth's dominant species.
User ReviewsSequels can be a worry when coming from big studios. Greedy cash-ins are all too familiar, where rather than stepping further into the world established by the predecessor and exploring unlimited opportunities in character and themes, they just add more antagonists, more action and more noise. It can also be worrying when the original director who helped see a great film through till the end is replaced in the next film. Rise of the Planet of the Apes was a refreshing and involving take on an old franchise and director Rupert Wyatt set up such promise for its sequel. Matt Reeves takes over the reins here on Dawn...and thankfully has taking the film to a rare, brilliant new level.
The film is set ten years after the first film. The ALZ-113 virus has continued to evolve Apes. Led by Caesar, they have made their home in the woods and bred. On the other side of the island (and the world), humans are scarce. The virus has had the opposite effect and spread, killing billions. Those thousands we do see remaining are struggling to survive. When an unfortunate situation occurs between the two sides, war is imminent. But not all humans and Apes agree with the potentially devastating results.
Whereas Rise of the Planet of the Apes was a stripped back study of the science at the core of the story, whilst investing us in the human drama, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes throws us head first into a very different world. The scope is immense and multi-layered. At one view, it's a dead, frightening post-apocalyptic world. At another, it's brisk, dynamic and visually arresting. Matt Reeves has such a masterful handle on every string and creates brooding scope, claustrophobic tension and powerful action sequences; all amongst a basic, but incredibly rich morality play which is raw and powerfully spoken. What is most fantastic about the character approach is nothing is clear cut. Good vs. Bad meet in the middle and spirals out to both sides. I could sit here and blabber about the complete awe I had of the major step up in visual effects of the Apes, but that's not what caught my attention. Right from the opening scene of an extreme close-up of Caesars eyes, I felt the characters. The performances from all stunt men and actors bringing life to these apes transcend the visual brilliance. It is collective. It is immersive. It is terrifying. Andy Serkis delivers one of his most satisfying performances to date. His dedication and his understanding of every thread and fiber of Caesars being are in every frame of this film. And I cannot forget to mention the all-out, aggressive performance from Toby Kebbell as Koba. He breaks the barrier of something quite terrifying and strong.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes transcends the Hollywood blockbuster. Not only does it deliver that rare sequel explores its world and characters further, but it's also richly told, beautifully and hauntingly portrayed and truly exciting and terrifying in equal measures. Quite possibly one of the best films of 2014.