Forget the Zombie Apocalypse… this is the Simian Apocalypse! In a world without selfies, Facebook and, well, power… it’s the perfect setting for the Planet of the Apes!
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is the eighth film (and the second reboot) of the franchise, which continues the adventures of Caesar, the leader of the apes. Picking up the storyline where the previous movie ended, the simian flu has become a worldwide pandemic, practically wiping out the entire human species. The survival rate is grim and only a small pocket of survivors live inside a San Francisco unfinished high rise.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Caesar’s apes have been living peacefully in the nearby Muir Woods. He teaches them not to kill other apes (sharing the plot device from a previous Apes film), but not all of his followers heed his wisdom. In his previous life, Koba was a mistreated lab animal, who still seeks revenge for the pain and suffering he had to endure.
Running out of resources, a small group of humans attempt to restart a local hydroelectric dam, but first they must deal with the ape army that far and away outnumbers the humans. Will the ape-human conflict be resolved peacefully? Or will the conflict totally wipe out the last shreds of humanity?
Dawn features a simian species that has advanced greatly since last we saw them. Most look unreal, having seemingly grown even larger in size since the last movie (I’m not entirely sure how that’s possible or even likely). No animals were harmed during the filming of this movie, but the apes are never quite believable as creatures, only an extension of Andy Serkis wearing his motion-capture suits. While Caesar can speak full sentences in English, the majority of the apes are reduced to sign language and grunts. This leads to LOTS of subtitles.
The special effects are great, featuring a variety of creatures, but I wonder how many of the voice actors actually appeared in motion-capture suits or even knew sign language. There’s so much CGI, in fact, I also wonder how much of the movie was actually filmed on location in Northern California and how much was filmed in front of a green screen.
Humans are the minor characters here, almost feeling unnecessary to the storyline. Keri Russell makes a brief appearance, but Gary Oldman totally feels wasted in a minor role. Isn’t the first rule of acting to never perform with a child or an animal? I guess neither actor never got that memo.
Overall, this isn’t the worst Apes movie… but it isn’t the best, either. Prepare yourselves for more simians! The next Apes film will be released on July 14, 2017.
Strength: Continuation of original dark storyline.
Weakness: Sparse dialogue. So much CGI, hard to tell what’s real, unreal.
WTF Moment: An ancient video camera just happened to work long enough (and have enough battery life) to play a video that features James Franco’s cameo from the previous film.
– “Scars make you strong.”
– “Fear makes apes follow.”
– “He’s more than just an ape.”
– “They’re talking apes… with big-ass spears!”