Spoiler-Free DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES Review: Hail, Caesar!

Opening in theaters on Friday, July 11th, DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES is an intense two-hour action-adventure that never seems to slow down long enough to let you catch your breath.  Set ten years after 2011’s better-than-expected blockbuster, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, DAWN tests the survival of the fittest principle as humans and apes fight to become Earth’s dominant species.  Continue reading for our spoiler-free review of DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES.

DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES

FILM SYNOPSIS

As the film begins, a montage of news footage explains that the virus we saw unleashed in Rise of the Planet of the Apes has wiped out most of the human population, with a survival rate of just 1 out of every 500 infected.  The focus then moves to the apes, who have built a community in the Muir Woods where Caesar (Andy Serkis) reigns supreme over the highly evolved species.  They hunt together, raise families, and communicate through sign language, even occasionally speaking to one another.  Not too far away in San Francisco, a group of human survivors have banded together, lead by Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) and Malcolm (Jason Clarke).  With only weeks until they run out of fuel, Malcolm takes a small group into the woods looking to restore a dam that will bring electricity back to the city.  It’s here that the two worlds collide, triggering a series of conflicts that exposes dissension within each of the societies.  While some would like to survive together in peace, others don’t believe this is possible, eventually leading the two sides into a grueling battle.

DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES

Malcolm (Jason Clarke) tries to make peace with Caesar (Andy Serkis), Koba (Toby Kebbell) and Maurice (Karin Konoval). Photo credit: WETA TM and © 2014 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

 THE GOOD

  • Andy Serkis.  His portrayal of Caesar is flawless and drives most of the intensity throughout the film.  I would be really surprised if he isn’t nominated for an Academy Award (and every other award) for his performance.
  • The rest of the apes.  The humans really take a back seat to the simian cast.  They’re both intimidating and charismatic, which is no easy feat given that what we’re seeing on the screen are CG renderings, leading to my next bulletpoint…
  • Special effects.  To say the effects are incredibly impressive is a huge understatement.  From the seemingly very real cast of apes, to the ruins of San Francisco.  The apes look so life-like that you can almost believe this could actually happen, making the tension all the more tangible.  It’s not zombies I’m worried about in a post-apocalyptic world, it’s the genetically enhanced apes riding around on horseback!
  • The energy.  I know I’ve used the word intense more than once in this review, but it’s with good reason.  The fast pace is set from the moment the film begins and never eases up until the credits roll.
DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES

Caesar, portrayed by Andy Serkis (in performance capture suit), the leader of the ape nation, and Malcolm (Jason Clarke), a representative of a colony of human survivors, reach a fragile peace in DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. Photo credit: David James – TM and © 2013 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved.

THE NOT-SO-GOOD

  • The human story.  Most of the talent here was underused, especially Gary Oldman. I would’ve liked to know more about his character’s backstory and to see him in more scenes.  While the filmmakers did try to work in the storylines of Jason Clarke and Keri Russell’s characters as the film progressed, I never felt emotionally connected to them.  Had their stories been established toward the beginning of the film when they were introduced, it may have changed that a bit.
DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES

Gary Oldman stars in DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. Photo credit: David James – TM and © 2014 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

 

Just one not-so-good bulletpoint?  Yes! Anything else would just be nit-picky.  DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES is an awesome summer adventure that will keep you on the edge of your seat.  For those of you with youngin’s, this film is rated PG-13, and for good reason. While the film isn’t particularly gory or chock-full of bad language, the imagery and content is probably best suited for teens & up.  Click below to watch the full trailer for the film.

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About Chrysty Summers

Growing up in southern California, Disneyland has always been a staple for my family. Today, my husband and I spend most of our free time at the parks, where you can usually find us soaking up the atmosphere of Buena Vista Street in California Adventure. We also love traveling to Walt Disney World as often as we can, especially during the Epcot Food & Wine Festival in the Fall! Find me on Twitter @PenelopePeach for live updates from around the parks.