APES ON HORSES! As the gentlemen over at Schmoes Know have affectionately named the newest installment in the long lived Planet of the Apes franchise, he much anticipated sequel to 2001’s Planet of the Apes reboot and Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. This film has been one of the films atop my list of must-see movies heading into the summer of 2014. Rise was such a surprise and phenomenal film that Dawn had a lot to live up too. Not only does Dawn live up to its predecessor, it may even surpass it.
For 10 years what has been known as the Simian Flu has plagued the world. The survivors do what they can to combat the virus and have come to a thin line of peace with the genetically evolved primates led by Caesar, who still has a soft spot for humans due to his upbringing. The peace between the two proves to be too fragile to keep and war breaks out to determine who will survive as Earth’s dominate species, man or ape.
The film stars Andy Serkis in the role as Caesar, and serves as another shining example of why Serkis has become the king of motion capture in film. Alongside Serkis are Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Toby Kebbell, Judy Greer, and, Kodi Smit-McPhee. Dawn is written once again by Amanda Silver, Rick Jaffa, and joining them is Mark Bomback. This go around Matt Reeves takes up the director’s chair.
Everything about Dawn is incredible. The script is nearly perfect, every time you think you know where the story is going there is a turn you don’t see coming. It is almost unpredictable. Watching the film I saw where it was going and said to myself “ok here is the story, got it, pretty cool….. oh wait no” and that happened numerous times. The story is not complex, but it is deep. It shows what can be wrong with society, and how bad things can turn quickly.
The apes have built up their community and are living in their society, leaving you sitting there in awe of what the film makers were able to do. You believe in the trust and strength within the ape community, while each ape maintains their own personality. The actors behind the motion capture do a wonderful job.
Speaking of Mo-Cap, it would be incredibly disrespectful not to mention how Andy Serkis deserves an Oscar nomination. He brings Caesar to life, you see Serkis behind the eyes of Caesar and you see him in his movements. This isn’t some CGI monkey, Caesar is Serkis and he is just perfect in the role. You feel for him, you care about him. When he is off screen, you notice he is not there. Not that the film is lacking anything when he is gone, but at the same time, you wait and are ready for what Serkis brings to film.
As Rise was in fact James Franco’s movie stolen by Serkis’ Caesar, Dawn is Caesar’s film, stolen by Kebbell and his portrayal of Koba. You remember Koba, he was the bad ass that showed up in Rise knowing the drill in labs. He is Caesar’s right hand ape, yet is not afraid to tell Caesar when he is wrong. Even with all the power Caesar holds over the apes, Koba will let him know what is up but is quick to back down to place. Kebbell is instrumental in bringing Koba to life. What Serkis has done to Caesar, Kebbell is doing with Koba.
When it all comes down, I ranked Dawn of the Planet of the Apes pretty high. I gave it a 5.6, with a full bonus of .5 for APES ON HORSES! That rounds the score out to 6.1, our second JEEBUS-TACULAR of the year!
The Jeebus System explained:
I base films on what I call the Jeebus System, which is a 6 point grade with a possible .5 bonus. With a full 1 point given for entertainment value, story, SFX or cinematography, acting, and casting each, then a half point for direction and dialog each. Titles are given to each score, with “death penalty to all involved” to anything <.9. “You’ll see this on FXx a lot” for <1.9. “Redbox or Netflix it” for <2.9. “Check out the Matinee” for <3.9. “A good time at the theater” for <4.9. “Multiple viewings required” for <5.9. And finally, Jeebus-tacular for 6 or above.