10 years after the Simian Flu wiped out almost the entire population of Earth, we find the apes living in peace in their stronghold after escaping from human captivity. While hunting, a couple apes stumble across a small pack of humans and the apes leader, Caesar, must make a tough decision. He can choose to help them out and give them what they need or an all out war between apes and humans can occur.
I remember when I first saw the trailer for Rise of the Planet of the Apes (RPA) a few years ago and thought about how awful it was going to be. I ended up being wrong and loved the film. It had an ending that left me wanting more and I got what I wanted in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (DPA). With a new director and a cast, they do a somewhat impossible feat by making a better film than the original. Matt Reeves (Let Me In, Cloverfield) took over the directors chair from Rupert Wyatt. Reeves created a phenomenal post apocalyptic world taking place in the mountains of San Francisco and the city itself. The set design for the ape stronghold and human colony are amazing. Reeves immerses the audience into the ape world and I had immediately found myself relating to them. The apes are wonderfully brought to life by motion capture performances.
Andy Serkis (Lord of the Ring Trilogy, The Hobbit), returns to play Caesar. Serkis carries most of this film and his performance is like none other. I really hope there is a push this year at the Oscars for his performance to be nominated. Serkis does all the movements and voice work for this character and with the digital effects from Weta, they bring him to life. The apes themselves look photorealistic and Weta has set the bar very high for future films like this. Serkis is also surrounded by a great supporting cast of motion capture performers. Most notably, Toby Kebbel (Wrath of the Titans, Rocknrolla) playing a tortured ape who has a strong dislike for humans. There is a great supporting cast including Howard Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty, Lawless), Gary Oldman (The Dark Knight Trilogy), Keri Russell (Felicity, Mission: Impossible III) and Kodi McPhee-Smit (Let Me In, Ender's Game). Howard Clarke has been on my radar for quite some time now and I'm glad he was able to shine in one of his first leading roles.
My favorite part about DPA was the story. I felt so many different emotions when watching this film because at one part I was pro-ape and then the next I was pro-human. I can’t say too much without spoiling anything but the movie went in a completely different direction I thought it was going to go. There was great character development especially between the relationship between Caesar and his son. It was thrilling to watch Caesar lead the apes due to his quiet but fearsome attitude. His demeanor made him seem unpredictable and I never knew what he would do next. I loved everything about Caesar and could watch him for hours.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is one of my favorite films this year because it is a near perfect film. Everything about it was amazing: the characters, the digital effects, the storyline, the action and so much more. If you have an appreciation for Rise of the Planet of the Apes, you will like this film even more. Andy Serkis’ performance is worth seeing on its own. He brings the character of Caesar to life and leaves you wanting more. I definitely recommend Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and it should be the next film you see in theaters.
5/5 - Masterpiece