Dawn of the Planet of the Apes takes us to ten years after the events of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, after the simian flu and events caused by it has wiped out most of humanity. A fairly small society in San Francisco has begun to run out of power so in an attempt to restart it comes across a civilisation of the Apes and discover they have developed more than expected. After one of the Apes is killed tension builds and both Humans and Apes find themselves paranoid of the other group.
Where Rise of the Planet of the Apes did an amazing job of making you root for the apes over the humans, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes manages to make you root for some Apes over other Apes instead. This is really impressive and just demonstrates how far performance capture has come; the CGI on the actor’s faces is so good that you really do feel the emotions being conveyed amazingly.
From that point I must point out how amazing Andy Serkis and Toby Kebbell were as the main Apes Caesar and Koba. Thanks to performance capturing’s advances in recent years it allowed their acting to shine through and it shone through brilliantly. Adding to that are great all round performances by Keri Russell, Jason Clarke and Gary Oldman who play the lead Human roles, who each do a great job of their respective roles.
Though they have a lot of screen time, the Human characters really only seem to serve to provide a plot device for the politics and issues internally within the Ape’s camp. This is actually well mirrored amongst the Human camp, as Malcolm (Jason Clarke) and Caesar both have an attitude where attacking each other only serves to lose lives. Unfortunately Koba and Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) both seem to want to take a heavier handed approach to dealing with the opposing force.
I just can no stress enough how well this movie was done. Amongst the amazing CGI, the brilliant dialogue and the fantastic and very believable story this movie hits all notes and hits them so well. As far as extras on the disc go, the single disc DVD is not swimming in extra content, having said that, if you are buying the single disc version of the film you are probably just after the movie, so any bonus content is exactly that. It comes with a photo gallery, the theatrical trailers and a little gem called Andy Serkis: Rediscovering Caesar. Andy Serkis: Rediscovering Caesar takes you behind the scenes to briefly see how performance capture is sued in the film with actors to understand just how they manage to make the apes in the film so great.
All in all Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a fantastic well rounded film. Taking fantastic effects, great acting, a fantastic story and grounding it in a way that you not only believe the apes could exist, but that the way they act is the way we could see humans in the same situation. I honestly did not think they could match the quality set in its prequel Dawn of the Planet of the Apes but they far exceeded its quality.
9.6 – A believable story and fantastic visual effects make this an excellent heart wrenching story that has set the bar for any CGI based films going forward.
NZ rating: M
Run Time: 125 Minutes