Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Release Date: July 8, 2014
Director: Matt Reeves
Novel by: Pierre Boulle
Screenplay: Mark Bomback, Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver
Cast: Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Toby Kebbell, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Nick Thurston, Judy Greer
Apparently, the Planet of the Apes franchise coverage on the site is mine now, even though our Fangirly Geek had been keeping tabs. Though I had doubts on how good this installment would be, the extra positive reviews online may have raised my eyebrow once or twice. Was it so much better than the surprising first one?
Unlike Rise of the Planet of the Apes, there was no element of surprise. This time around, there’s actually expectations as we want to know what happened with humans and apes alike as the Simian Flu started wiping us out. Spreading like wildfire, there were only a small group of humans that seemed immune to the virus, and as such the apes civilization — led by Caesar (Serkis) — began to organize itself -for at least ten winters, as orangutan Maurice points out. Now, they hunt, ride horses, use fire, and even teach their young ones (including Blue Eyes (Thurston), Caesar’s eldest son) to read and to communicate through sign language. Meanwhile, the surviving San Francisco human colony is on its last three weeks of fuel power, and leader Dreyfus (Oldman) is afraid people are going to cause havoc when it finally runs out, thus sending a group to work on the dam for electricity.
However, problems arise when Caesar’s affection for human beings is questioned by his second-in-command, the previously-test-subject, Koba (Kebbell).
There are so many real life comparisons to what happens in this that you want to give it the thumbs up for the mere fact that, yes, it could happen. Virus scares spreading like wildfire, riots, civil wars popping here and everywhere- turn on a news channel right now. Assassination attempts, mass manipulation, coup d’état, “political” prisoners, conspiracy theorist galore~ it’s all present in the species that thought itself better than human beings, it’s a wake up call for Caesar who gets a nice character arc in contrast to the first film, mirroring Franco’s character, and makes me want to slap Blue Eyes silly. I could hear my grandfather’s and parents’ voices saying “I didn’t raise you to be this stupid.”
Technically speaking, the mood and cinematography are much better — hopefully because the budget almost doubles the first one and it all went into that — though I didn’t notice much improvement with monkey visual effects. They had their great moments like before (Maurice is still my favorite ape), but the opening hunting scene was a total visual turn-off, as well as the next-to-last battle scene with all the explosions. And while Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a perfectly decent blockbuster, why choose all these actors? Clarke, Russell, McPhee, they all worked and did their job… but their characters could’ve been played by anyone.
Overall, it did exceed my expectations, even if I don’t think it’s deserving of the praise it’s gotten. At best, it’s a fit sequel with some meat in its structure, despite the lack of feelings that it should’ve risen. I mean, come on! What does Dreyfus do once electricity is up and running? Turn his iPad on and cry. I guess I should’ve felt something?