To start off this review, I feel obligated to let you all know that as far as the originals go I haven’t really seen any of them. I mean I've seen most of the first one but never got around to seeing the others. Unfortunately, I have seen Tim Burtons version which was (besides Tim Roth's performance) nightmarishly bad. So when Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes was announced I had this odd curiosity for it. After hearing that it would be an origin story about Caesar I was sold.
Well, I saw “Rise” twice in the theater so to say that I liked it would probably be an understatement. I have also seen it numerous times on BluRay, while letting anyone who hadn't seen it borrow my DVD copy. Obviously, with the success of that movie, we all knew that there would be a sequel. Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes was announced and I was immediately pumped. I remember seeing the teaser trailer where Caesar donned war paint looking pretty cool. Once I saw the whole trailer for it I was hooked.
I was still really nervous about the change of directors and the fact that James Franco was not returning. I think the studio was too in all honesty so they went with the smart idea to make this story take place 10 years after the first one. This was good for a few reasons ultimately serving as a fresh start with the departures. The humans have fought each other to the point of dwindling in numbers while the apes have built there own community. Now, the humans need the apes help.
Acting wise, they loaded some of the characters with actors that could make you believe the somewhat crazy/realistic situation. Some really phenomenal actors including Jason Clarke, Kerri Russell, and Gary Oldman jumped aboard this blockbuster sequel.
Jason Clarke was on a FOX show called The Chicago Code which was fantastic, but got the FOX one season curse. James Franco's character from the first movie is really tough to beat but Jason Clarke knocks it out of the park. He is easy to relate to and offers the compassion that Franco's character had but with some added strength.
Kerri Russell does a great job with the character she is given. Very likable and doesn't play what could have been a dumb female which was very refreshing to see.
Gary Oldman is a tough one. I mean we all know that the actor is fantastic and I know what role his character was supposed to fill, I just didn't like it or connect in anyway with him.
The apes are equally fantastic. It was an interesting choice with their communication. While the apes do indeed talk (although not fluently) they mainly use sign language which means subtitles. I did not mind this but I know some people it might.
Now, the real star of this movie is Andy Serkis. As in the first movie, he is simply amazing at playing Caesar showing the emotion needed to make the audience care in many different ways about this ape. I think he does an even better job in this movie than he did in “Rise” which speaks volumes. Caesar feels older and weathered by the events that have happened.
From the first movie I figured Koba would be a bigger part in this movie and boy is he. Toby Kebbell does a great job portraying this very unstable character. I love the relationship between him and Caesar because you can understand both of their opinions so its fun when they are on screen together. And might I add, he just looks plain creepy.
Karin Konoval as Maurice also does a terrific job of displaying the emotions needed for the “teacher” of the group.
Just like the first movie, this is a very story heavy movie. That's not to say that there isn't action because there is. Like Rise, Dawn has an action packed ending, although I am still fond of the golden gate bridge scene from the previous installment. But the middle is definitely meant to form this story to make each decision matter. I felt a few times during this movie like yelling at the screen for characters doing stupid things. However, I will give the writers credit for balancing some tough issues that could have felt “preachy” but really just felt like issues that would actually take place between humans and apes if the situation existed.
At the end of the day it is the relationship between Jason Clarke and Serkis that really shines. Each of their characters has the same goal in this messed up world and are trying to prevent others of their kind from going off the deep end. I never thought they could form a better relationship than they did in the first with Franco but Clarke's character and Caesar really captivated me.
If you are a fan of Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes than this is a must see. If you did not like Rise (and surprisingly I have met a few that have) then I can't imagine that Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes does anything better that would make you like this one more. Where they go after Dawn really intrigues me to see if they go farther into the future like they did with this one.
Oh and there is nothing at the end of the credits except some ape noises and a weird message saying how the movie supplied 15,000 jobs which is great but odd to spotlight, to me anyway.
So if you haven't figured it out by now, I love this series and this is a great installment to further the storyline in what is hopefully more than just a trilogy.
4 OUT OF 5 STARS