“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” Review

In a sequel to the 2011 reboot Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes takes place 10 years later, after the “Simian Flu” wipes out a large portion of the population. After all of the societal changes are explained in a montage of news clips, the film introduces us to the genetically modified ape tribe, and the surviving human tribe in San Francisco. They cross paths after a group of humans attempt to access a hydroelectric dam near the apes, and one of the humans shoots an ape out of somewhat self-defense. From there the story develops into a will they/won’t they war movie, though the plot unfolds relatively predictably.

None of the people playing humans really give a notable performance, with exception to Gary Oldman, who is surprisingly touching as the leader of the surviving San Francisco group. Jason Clarke (Malcolm) plays a generic leading male, Keri Russell (Ellie) plays a pretty nurse, and Kirk Acevedo (Carver) plays a plot device. However, the real stars of the film are the motion capture apes. While personality-wise they generally aren’t anything more than a caricature, they are all meticulously designed and work well in their environment. Andy Serkis once again gives an emotional performance as Caesar, the leader of the ape tribe, and Toby Kebbell takes over the role of Koba to create an incredibly intimidating antagonist.

Just like the character development, the story itself is somewhat generic. Not to say that that’s an awful thing, but the formula is followed to the tee. There are no real surprises or risks, and it’s pretty easy to stay 20 minutes ahead of the movie. Not to say any of the dialogue or story was bad, it was just uninspired.

There were also some poor editing choices that took me out of the movie. In one of the climatic battle scenes of the film, it seemed as if the apes had an infinite amount of extras, and that a large potion of the apes would die, but the army would be entirely unfazed. In another scene, a character that was shown to be barely able to sit up suddenly was able to partake in an incredibly acrobatic fight. Neither of these things ruined the movie for me, but they both made me question the reality that the film had created for itself.

Overall, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is an entertaining movie, but nothing truly special. The film is visually stimulating, but not so much mentally. It’s manipulative and clichéd, but as a popcorn movie, it’s worth a watch. 7/10.

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