2014 Movie Reviews: Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes

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I remember back in 2011 when I started hearing about Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes and about how brilliant Andy Serkis was in the film. Not being a fan of the franchise, I didn’t see the film until just recently. And while I liked it, it didn’t really click for me the way it did for everyone else. It was a very, very good film, but I found myself wanting to be truly blown away by it.

As it turned out, I just had to wait until the sequel to get that feeling.

I mean, WOW. This film is a true-game changer.

The film works in the same fashion as The Dark Knight, being a very deep and profound film that just so happens to also be a summer blockbuster. Oh sure, the action and explosions are there, but underneath the ‘popcorn flick’ exterior, you’ll find a beating heart and a strong message about war.

‘Now hold on,’ I hear you saying, ‘You don’t even like war movies!’ And yet, somehow, this sci-fi story with talking apes does a better job at conveying what it needs to convey than just about every other war movie out there. Nobody wants to fight. We attack because we are paranoid that the other side might attack first.

Not only does the film show us the pros and cons of both the humans and apes, but it contrasts the violence with the knowledge that peace is easily possible. There’s a great scene when one of the human characters is reading a book to an orangutan. It’s a nice, peaceful moment between man and ape that is immediately offset by the following scene, in which an ape only pretends to be peaceful, tricking the humans, to steal their weapons. The contrast is night and day.

And then we have Andy Serkis. My God. In a year with so many rich and layered performances in the Best Actor category, Serkis finds a way into my personal top five. Every time I look at Caesars’ face, I see pure, raw emotion. Here’s hoping he gets a nomination at some point in his career, or at least a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to performance capture.

On top of that, the sound designers do a wonderful job with the apes vocalizations. There’s also some great world-building and a great score. And do I even need to mention the VFX? All-in-all, it’s a wonderful movie. Although I do recommend watching the original first, just so you’re caught up on the story. And I am really and truly looking forward to the third film in this franchise.

***** Yeah, I’m in a generous mood.

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