Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes (2014)
Directed by: Matt Reeves
Written by: Amanda Silver, Mark Bomback, Rick Jaffa, Scott Burns
Starring: Andy Serkis, Gary Oldman, Jason Clarke, Judy Greer, Keri Russell, Kirk Acevedo
THE HUGHES VERDICT
Lets get this out of the way! Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes is a bad film!
There I said it, now please let me explain!
The original Planet Of The Apes was released in 1968 and became one of the most iconic Sci-Fi masterpiece of Film. Starring Charlton Heston and containing one of the most infamous twists of all time, the film went on from not only sequel after sequel, but also a shortlived TV show.
Its impact is hard to put in words, but Planet is one of those films that has entered into pop culture. There are those who have never seen the film but know of the “twist”, there are those (and it does not bare to think about it) that have seen the ill-judged Tim Burton remake from 2o01 and know that the original is better, but won’t watch it now as that re-imagine of a classic, left a sour taste.
I feel sorry for those who do seek it out, not knowing what happens at the end, only too pick up the DVD and see the now infamous image of the Statue Of Liberty staring back at them. Such is the force of that “ending” that its now spolit by it being on the DVD cover, such is the impact it has, and quite silly when you think about it as it kind of ruins it for all the newcomers.
For me personally, Planet Of The Apes is forever spolit for me thanks to a certain Homer Simpson, who before he embarks on that trip to Space, he discusses the film to a live nation and then after all these years it dawns on him just what that ending means. Its such a brilliant hilarious moment that it always enters my mind when I see Heston on the path to find his discovery.
So my point is, if Planet Of The Apes is considered a Masterpiece. Then Dawn is a very bad film. Not in the sense that its an “awful” film, goodness in the words of Cesar “Nooooooooo!”, what I mean its bad for being naughty. You see Dawn is much better than its original film, so if Planet is a masterpiece, then what does this make Dawn?
Like discussed in Scream 2, sequels are not meant to surpass its original film and judging by those students not many do, but Dawn goes against that rule. When it was decided to reboot the franchise to show just how our planet became ruled by those damn dirty apes, no one could imagine what the outcome would be. If the last film RISE was good, Dawn takes it to the next level and more, because believe me, this is one of the best films of all time.
A Modern Masterpiece I dare say.
The story picks up ten years after RISE and Planet Earth is not how we left it. If you rememeber, RISE had hints that a virus was all set to escape from a lab and we learn straight away that not only it did, but the human race is no more. The “simian flu” has spread around the world, killing everyone it grabs hold of, Earth seeing the human species finally fall thanks to playing mother nature.
On the outskirts of San Francisco, we meet up with Caesar, the ape from the first film who became the leader of the new genetically-modified apes. Caesar is now married and with child and the apes are living in the vast forest, free from human interferance. All credit to director Matt Reeves who sucks us in right at the start. Its beautifully shot from the very first frame and there is just something about the opening ten minutes that cries out that you are all set to watch something special.
Those apes and their peaceful life comes crashing down when they discover a group of humans crying out for their help. Human Malcom (Jason Clarke) and Caesar try they best to form such kind of truce between the two species. Caesar is not a bad ape, he grew up in a human family and had a human father figure in the shape of Will, but its the uneasy tension between the other members of the two camps that bring the sense of chaos to unfold.
Koba (Toby Kebbell), is the chimp full of hate and venom who after years of torture by humans, hates their kind and questions everything Caesar does, while on the other side, Dreyfus (Gary Oldman), is the old fashioned type who believes that apes are apes and refuses to believe that they have changed.
It has to be said that Malcom and Caesar are the two characters that make DAWN work so perfectly. Both try they best to resolve everthing without the need of bloodshed and its to the credit of the writers and everyone involved that they have created a film so deep in morals and emotional sense, that we seem to forget that this is about apes fighting humans.
In lesser hands this would have been a CGI fest full of non stop action that would appease the action junkies, but what we have is a thought-provoking tale that will leave you thinking long and hard. Don’t get me wrong, once the second half hits and blood is spilled, you be in awe, but as the film has taken its time for the viewer to invest in the characters in both sides of the camp, you heart will be pulled from side to side. The point is, Action films should not be like this- deep meaning with a story to tell…..Michael Bay and Transfomers take note!
News today that Andy Serkis may not be entitled for an Oscar nod is a scandal because the guy is a genius. How he does what he does is simply amazing and his perfomance as Caesar is one that many will talk about for years. You can argue that its the effects, but Serkis gives Caesar the heart that would be clearly missing if it was just a CGI effect. The eyes, the movement, it comes from Serkis himself and even if he wont get an Oscar nod, he should be proud of himself as fans everywhere appreciate what you bring to these roles.
DAWN works beautifully because there are no bad guys, while apart from Koba if needs must. But for the general running time what we have is two species scared of change and trying their best to survive in a new world, even if it means blood has to be spilled. The third act is a glorious set-piece bonanza which will have you screaming at the screen, as war erupts and both sides desperate to win.
I really can not explain just how good Dawn is. The effects and music score are phenomenal. Reeves is clearly loving it behind the camera and created a film so rich in scope that it demands repeated viewing. We have a film of two halves. The first telling a tale of how and why two different species should try their best to get on and live with each other, to the second half showing just what can go wrong when you ignore peace and choose all out war.
Not many action films can say they have such an emotional impact running through its veins, but DAWN manages to pull of the impossible, its a rare beast of an action film that is equally powerful as it is striking. Its a masterpiece from start too finish, an achievement that no one expected which will leave you with only one thought as you leave the cinema….
When’s the third film out?