Starring: Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Toby Kebbell
Directed by: Matt Reeves
Written by: Mark Bomback, Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver
Rating: PG-13 (US) Running Time: 2 hr 10 min
In Rise of the Planet of the Apes, we saw how a potential cure for Alzheimer’s ended up gifting apes with superior intelligence, while simultaneously exposing human beings to a deadly virus. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes picks up the story a few years later when the deadly virus has almost wiped out the entire human race. The apes by this time have built a community in Muir Woods, and are quite happy. They raise their young, hunt and educate themselves. Their fledgling society has even adopted some basic rules of conduct, and they are content. That is until they come across a small group of surviving humans, who are in the woods to find and restore a hydro-electric power station.
Amid the incredibly well designed visual effects, there’s also a great story about the power of fear in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Between the humans and apes obviously, but also internally within each group, and I appreciated how each characters motivations in this drama seemed credible. On one side you have the ape Koba (Toby Kebbell) who still holds some resentment towards humans because of his time in the labs. On the other side there is Dreyfus (Gary Oldman), still grieving the loss of his family due to the virus, which by this point has been unfairly connected to the apes. Fear, pain and mistrust fuel their actions, and the results overwhelm both groups and become deadly.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a really effective science fiction thriller, that blends incredible visual effects work with a solidly written story. It’s a step up from its predecessor in that there are less story logic problems, and the human characters are given more depth. That being said though, when the apes are not in a scene they are missed, but thankfully that isn’t often.
If you enjoyed Rise of the Planet of the Apes then I’m pretty certain you’ll enjoy this too. If you are new to the franchise, I suggest you watch Rise first. Dawn can stand on its own in my opinion, but watching the first movie will make your experience with the sequel a lot more enjoyable.
With its great cinematography, visual effects and superb score by Michael Giacchino, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a must see on the big screen. If you wait for it to be available to rent, then make sure you watch the HD version on a nice big TV. Watching this movie on a smaller screen will reduce the quality of your experience.
The quality of the visual effects, and the great score by Michael Giacchino.