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Dawn of the PLanet of the Apes - Movie Review


5 stars


Want to see an ape win an Academy Award? Look no further than Andy Serkis as Caesar in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes for the chance. He is seriously that good and the two hour movie, expanding on the brawn and greatly improving the brain of 2011’s reboot of the once madly popular five-picture and TWO television shows Planet of the Apes franchise, is equally as solid. As a middle chapter, director Matthew Reeves’ entry is darker and a bit bolder in its statement about humans and their simian counterparts as this interspecies battle rages on.

In the mythos of the narrative, it has been a decade since the apes escaped Gen-Sys labs and made their camp in Marin County. Humanity has suffered a major blow in the form of a virus that has pretty much wiped out the population; this was hinted at during the closing credits of the first picture. The surviving humans are well aware of the apes but the apes – after discovering Malcolm (Jason Clarke), Ellie (Keri Russell) and Malcolm’s son Alexander (Kodi Smit-McPhee) – are surprised that humans still exist. An uneasy truce is established once the humans come to accept that the apes can talk but tension on both sides keeps the peace in question.    

Rise of the Planet of the Apes was not a favorite of mine in 2011. Sure, I could have given it a pass (and I guess I did with a 3-Reel rating) but, you see, I love the original mythology and I guess I am a bit protective when it comes to these damn and dirty apes. Rise was smart in the beginning but grew weak in the middle and weaker still as the apes began to rebel, concluding in some hokey dialogue, and cutesy nods to the original, and helicopter-based situations far too comical to be believable. I wanted better. It is my pleasure to inform you that Dawn delivers what I originally expected from the series.

The three years gap between movies aids the new installment. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes improves upon the reboot with a strong and intelligent script by Mark Bomback, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver that simply flushes the bullshit. This is a driven narrative that is honest, correct, and terrifyingly true to its purpose. In fact, the trio might have studied some of the best sequels for plotting aspects in these “Gorilla” Wars and combined it with the social science found in a NatGeo documentary about two clashing cultures or one about Americans and their guns. We have durable characters spouting out believable lines and we have apes and humans jockeying for glory and power while a once captive Caesar figuratively dons a stovepipe hat and does his best Honest Abe.

The apes – now joined by orangutans and gorillas and all other sorts of primates – simply dominate the picture. And it is quite believable. This is the first time that performance capture 3D has been successfully done in a practical environment and not merely on a cold studio’s stage. The difference is immersive and impressively stunning. Caesar’s clan has grown, organized, and quite expertly adapted to their surroundings. They don’t live in fear; they attack all manner of beast. The motion capture 3D effects are mind-bending and suggest a new bar for other FX-heavy productions to match.

Reeves, who has flirted with a sort of Spielbergian philosophy behind the camera with Let Me In and Cloverfield, provides the film with a steady hand for energy, action, and tension without creating PTSD for the audience. Imagine that. An action film without bozos unnecessarily blowing crap up, boobs bouncing everywhere, and no Bay (as in Michael Bay). Reeves’ film is well-shot, well-choreographed, and flawless in its execution of some pretty intense scenes. Even the small scenes play out nicely. Reeves certainly has a bright future ahead of him. Fans of the series do, too. The humans in this world of apes; however, do not.  

Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) and much of the rest of the race, now surrounded by that dystopian reality we all imagine our future holds, salvage what they can of their former reign but – unless their brains match their bullet supply – their time has passed swiftly away; all tools are useless it seems. They simply aren’t ready for the type of battle the apes are capable of waging. You won’t be either because, yes, the script dares to go there. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is tense, frightening, and downright shocking in some of its images and thought processes. It’s all a bit of history repeating as apes saddle their horses and raise their guns above their heads…

With Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, you will believe that an ape can rule.


[tab title="Film Details"]

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes - Movie Review

MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and brief strong language.
130 mins
: Matt Reeves
Writer: Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver
Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Andy Serkis
: Action  | Sci-Fi
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Memorable Movie Quote: "Who the hell else am I going to blame? It was a simian flu. They already killed off half the planet.."
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Official Site: http://www.dawnofapes.com/
Release Date:
July 11, 2014
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
December 2, 2014
Synopsis: A growing nation of genetically evolved apes led by Caesar is threatened by a band of human survivors of the devastating virus unleashed a decade earlier. They reach a fragile peace, but it proves short-lived, as both sides are brought to the brink of a war that will determine who will emerge as Earth's dominant species.


[tab title="Blu-ray Review"]

Dawn of the PLanet of the Apes - Movie Review


Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - December 2, 2014
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
: English SDH, Spanish, Portuguese
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit); Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 kbps); French: Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 kbps); Spanish: DTS 5.1; Portuguese: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD); UV digital copy; Digital copy
Region Encoding: A

Presented on blu-ray by Twentieth Century Fox with an excellent MVC MPEG-4 encode framed in the film's original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes battles its way through the sludge of home video releases to be a memorable experience.  The film looks great in 3D at home – the 3D effects add a real immersive sense of scale and depth.  And the resolution, color reproduction and brightness are just as good as on the 2D Blu-ray.  It does help that the 3D was shot natively on location, and although the 3D is not really essential to the story, it certainly does not detract from it.  While it debuted theatrically with a stunning Dolby Atmos surround mix, Fox has elected to release this Blu-ray in 7.1 DTS-HD MA.  Curious choice because The Expendables 3 soldiered on with the new mix format without any difficulty for sound systems without Atmos.  But don't worry, this is a reference quality, demonstration worthy sound mix with a wide dynamic range catering to swirling action sequences and immersive quiet moments.



  • The film’s director, Matt Reeves, provides the commentary.  And he couldn’t sound anymore happier than he already does as he discusses the making and the success of the sequel.  The track is especially interesting to hear for fans of motion capture and compositing.

Special Features:

Hail Caesar!  With approximately two hours of special features, the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Blu-ray is packed with behind-the-scenes footage and deleted scenes, including intimate interviews with Andy Serkis on how he masterfully created Caesar and inside looks at the secrets of the relationship between man and apes.  Like Gravity‘s Blu-ray special features, the making-of featurettes for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes are especially fascinating and often surprising what with their cameras attached to trees via denture cream, performers in motion capture outfits slipping in the mud in the forest, spectacular visual effects animation blended with raw real-world settings, actors learning to move and behave like apes.  There’s a great deal of world-building and impressive technical detail that went into the film.  You’ll be amazed if you watch it all.

  • Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary by Matt Reeves (4 min)
  • Journey to Dawn (9 min)
  • Andy Serkis: Rediscovering Caesar (9 min)
  • Humans and Apes: The Cast of Dawn (18 min)
  • The World of Dawn (15 min
  • The Ape Community (11 min)
  • Move Like an Ape: An Artist's Medium (15 min)
  • Weta and Dawn (20 min)
  • The Fight for a New Dawn (16 min)
  • Galleries (5 min)
  • Theatrical Trailers


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