Get out your APES with GUNS, we're reviewing Dawn of the Planets of the Apes!
It's been 10 years since the events of the Rise of the Planet of the Apes when the "simian flu" broke out and killed most of humanity, and Caesar(Andy Serkis) has made a thriving community for the now genetically smart apes. But when a new group of survivors show up, led by Malcolm(Jason Clarke), to restore power to parts of San Francisco to keep humanity alive, war between the apes and humans threatens to break out.
This is more than I ever wanted from a movie about apes with guns. I really liked Rise and this is somehow better. Did anyone expect these movies to be really great? I think we all look at the classic ape series through rose-tinted glasses because while the first one is iconic, most of the series wasn't that good, right? And this is like, a legitimately good movie! With a touching story, dueling personalities, and a masterful driving theme of doing what's best for your family! It's really good is what I'm saying.
This is SUCH a pretty movie. The animations of the apes look amazing and there's so much detail in the faces and fur and skin wrinkles that you'll wonder how many sleepless hours these technicians and artists had to go through. The CGI is breathtaking, and the post-apocalyptic aesthetic is done incredibly well. It looks like The Last of Us: The movie. I wouldn't say the 3D is necessarily worth it, but all the ape acting and animation is pulled of wonderfully. And it's all held together by a great score done by the always amazing Michael Giacchino.
And there's soooo much cool action. If you like seeing apes fight, this is definitely the movie for you. Apes on horses, apes with guns, apes fighting apes, it's all super fun to watch. The first five minutes alone have apes fighting a bear. APES FIGHTING A BEAR. You know you want to see that movie.
The acting is all on point. Jason Clarke pulls a lot of heavy work with his icy blue stare alone, but there's also Gary Oldman being great as usual, and Keri Russel, who's had a great couple of years lately. But obviously this is Andy Serkis' show as his acting as Caesar is perfect. There will be shots where he's just standing with a half grimace showing off his dominance and you KNOW he's about to get into some shit. All the other ape actors are amazing too, especially Toby Kebbell as the militant 2nd in command, general Koba.
It really astounds me how great the story is, and how much they build on the universe and characters of the first one. Characters you thought would be one-note side characters or sub-villains in the first movie, like Koba and Maurice the orangoutang, become major players in this one. And it all fits together so well. This isn't one of those stories where the humans are evil for no reason or the apes turn into monsters, you can really feel that everyone has a good reason for doing what they're doing, and they can't do it any other way. It's a great study in conflicting personalities and the mistrust of others. And on top of that there's also a really good father-son dynamic with Caesar and his brash teenage son.
I wish I had more to say, but Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is just a really great movie. Great story, great CGI, great action, go see it!
THE GOOD: Great CGI, Great moving story, great acting, great characters, great soundtrack, great animation, apes with guns.
THE BAD: I mean do you NOT like apes with guns???
THE VERDICT: $$$$$ It's definitely worth seeing multiple times. I would recommend seeing Rise first if you haven't already, but it's still an amazing movie.
MOVIES LIKE IT: Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Planet of the Apes, I am Legend, Children of Men, The Last of Us(videogame)
ONE-SCENE METAPHOR: Koba acts like a dumb monkey to get close to two dumb guys shooting guns, only take the gun away and shoot them both. It's a really well acted and well animated scene, but also badass AND horrifying.