Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Directed by Matt Reeves

Starring Andy Serkis, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell and Jason Clarke
In UK Cinemas July 17th, 2014

by Laura Patricia Jones

Blockbusters aren’t what they used to be; thanks to Christopher Nolan and the Dark Knight franchise it now seems near impossible to make an action movie without shooting in the rain. In the dawn of this era of soggy moral reboots where we witness remakes of cult classics (most recently Godzilla) stepping away from their chewits monster status to something a little darker, it was interesting to see what would become of the next installment of the modern Planet of the Apes.

Ten years on from the events of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes brings us a new world in a practically post apocalyptic fashion where mankind has died off from the deadly lab generated ‘simian flu’ leaving only a few genetically immune survivors. With this, apes can live their lives homosapien-free until the peace is disturbed by the last remaining survivors, led by chief of police Dreyfus (once more Gary Oldman is called upon to save the day and lead the rabble from chaos).  And so begins the conflict of the quest to restore power as a group of humans stumble across the ape’s fortress.

Despite being a big budget blockbuster, the cinematography has an almost indie vibe to it which makes the apes and their surroundings feel very much real. Once your technology blinkers let you forget that they are humans in CGI form, the acting feels real and emotive which makes it a bit of a difficult watch as you’re never quite sure whose side you should be on. As an audience, we are used to the usual rooting for the good guy and fight against evil adrenaline rush.  When there is no baddy to roar at you, you find yourself cowering in the fight scenes as neither party deserves the beating. The only beast to defeat here is the wickedness of human nature which both parties have inherited, a theme that becomes apparent as the movies wears on.

But back to action fighting apes on horse back… For those of you looking for the thrill of on screen action, you won’t be left hanging.  In fact, I’m pretty sure my ears were bleeding from their exposure to artillery. The combat scenes, whilst problematic to watch for anyone with a strong moral output or WWF membership, provide a stunning ride of adrenaline.  While the thought of a monkey with a gun sounds absurd, boy do they know how to use them!

Comparisons aside, there is a lot to be learned from this film including the ills of power, greed, struggle and the inevitability of war breaking out without cause. The pitfall with this kind of plotline and any which involves animals attempting to take over the world, is that it has the potential to follow the Animal Farm style suit. While this underlying metaphor is apparent, the beauty of Dawn of the Planet of The Apes is that like the genetically enhanced beasts themselves – a rare breed. The kind of rare breed where the sequel manages surpass its predecessor, ensuring excitement and thrills throughout – you won’t be disappointed.

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