Ricky's Film Reviews

Bringing you honest reviews of recent releases

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

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Sequel to the 2011 hit Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

In the wake of a global disaster, survivor Malcolm and his close team try desperately to restore power to their broken habitat in the depths of San Francisco’s downtown.
However, when they stumble upon a nest of apes who have made home on the other side of the bridge, a chain of events unfold.

Events which begins a mass war – humans against ape.
But which race will survive, and earn their right to stay living on the earth?..

 

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Cast

Andy Serkis – Caesar

Gary Oldman – Dreyfus

Jason Clarke – Malcolm

Keri Russell – Ellie

Judy Greer – Cornelia

Kodi Smit-McPhee – Alexander

 

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Hooked

From the opening scene through to its explosive finale, I was absolutely hooked. I don’t consider myself a fan of these human-ape type movies, but I found this movie very watchable. I was captivated the entire time, only taking my eyes off the screen to check I hadn’t dropped my mobile phone. (it’s not much fun having to get on all fours underneath pitch black seating, believe me).

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was pretty much non-stop action from the word go, kicking off immediately with our furry friends (or rather enemies) swinging through the trees and marking their territory. No sooner have we caught a glimpse of how the apes are getting by, do Malcolm and his team of associates wander into the ‘ape’s nest’ – resulting in life-changing consequences..

Not only was I intrigued constantly by what was happening on screen, but I found myself vocalising quite often. All an ape had to do was throw a deep, sad facial expression at the camera and I instantly let out an “awwww”.
And it wasn’t just sounds of affection, I uttered a few “ouch”, “fuck” and “oooh”‘s. I think it was actually the first time in my life I’ve referred to an animal as “a c*nt” – that just felt plain weird, calling an ape a c*nt.

 

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Special Effects & Graphics

I will state for a fact, the animals were spectacular. I don’t know how many (if any) were costume and how many were CGI, but Caesar and his crew were very genuine, the director nailed it. I didn’t look at an ape and think, “that looks fake” – I regarded them as a being of their own, like the humans. At certain points, a few of them cry – tears falling from their wrinkled eyes and rolling down their cheek. I actually felt saddened by the sight. Not much more I can say other than the apes are brilliant.

Surrounding San Francisco was laid out well. The area including the Golden Gate Bridge looks the same, only slightly darkened with a cloudy grey mist and debris. A massive naval ship lays tilted on its side underneath the bridge. The habitable parts of San Francisco are everything you could want / expect from a post-apocalyptic setting; cracked architecture, mass vegetation which sees vines and plants growing around buildings you wouldn’t normally get, etc. The whole set is quite convincing, which I liked – I’m a big fan of the post-apocalyptic look; important buildings reduced to shells, plants growing where you’d least expect, etc.
And although not a heavy focus point, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes portayed this element very well.

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Apes swinging through the air was another good bit; at the beginning of the movie they swarm through the trees like spiders – a scene that actually reminded me of the Harry Potter movies – convincing creatures scuttling out of the misty colourful depths of the forest. This scene had me “whoa” out loud. And it continued nicely. Another scene sees two humans preparing their guns for possible battle – all of a sudden, three furry beasts lower from the ceiling and make their way towards the men by way of slick swinging which they perform with wonderful synchronicity. Be it apes crying which was rather powerful, or their spidery way of moving around, the special effects were fantastic. I have nothing bad to say about this aspect.

 

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Enemies

Just you wait for the battle scene between ape and human. It’s special.
Ape on horseback is a bizarre sight, but as they ride into San Francisco to face the humans, all hell breaks loose. Explosions, people falling, buildings that are already toppled topple a bit further, and of course – the apes master plan involving the humans to reverse the whole ‘caged animal’ thing..

If someone were to say to me, “imagine apes or monkeys sat on horseback, waving machine guns in the air”, I would probably end up laughing at how silly the image seemed. However, watching it on the big screen was nowhere near as silly and highly effective as the apes drew me straight into the action, their story. The scene I thought most powerful sees Malcolm and an ape put their heads together in a strong bond of understanding. The way they close their eyes and lean on each other is very moving.

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Another thing I liked about this movie was the fact the director didn’t swamp the audience in family shit. Unlike many other movies that throw as much emotional family dialogue at the audience as possible, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes veers in the opposite direction. The story is brought to us from the view of the apes – of course there are humans with issues of their own, but these issues are briefly explained before getting on with ‘monkey business’.
The story spends so much time focused on the apes, I tried to decipher the actors underneath the wrinkled faces as I sat there watching. I mean, Judy Greer was an ape – but I honestly couldn’t find her amongst the blackened furry heads, it was strange.

 

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Judy in training for the movie

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Andy gets into character as Caesar

  

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a great watch, and very different from what I thought it would be.
Full of burning action from the word go, the story is easy to follow and not drowning in lengthy scenes; on the contrary, this movie moves swiftly from one scene to the other, balancing the lives of humans and apes brilliantly.
Although the main cast do a good job, the apes outweigh them massively due to superb special effects and personalities which are channelled into creating their own race. They are wonderful beasts.

It is very watchable and had me interested from its opening scene, which is the main element I enjoyed.
I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this movie to anyone wanting a good watch – it’s not groundbreaking, but it’s definitely entertaining.
If you’re a monkey lover, ape fanatic or special effects buff, this one is for you – enjoy!

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This entry was posted on July 19, 2014 by .
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