Monday, July 14, 2014

Review: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Cast: Humans: Jason Clarke (Malcolm), Gary Oldman (Dreyfus), Keri Russell (Ellie), Toby Kebbell, Kodi Smit-McPhee (Alexander), Jocko Sims (Werner), Kirk Acevedo (Carver), Enrique Murciano (Kempt), Kevin Rankin (McVeigh), Keir O’Donnell (Finney), James Franco (Dr. Will Rodman, cameo)
Evolved Apes: Andy Serkis (Caesar), Toby Kebbell (Koba), Judy Greer (Cornelia, Caesar’s wife), Terry Notary (Rocket), Karin Konoval (Maurice), Nick Thurston (Blue Eyes), Doc Shaw (Ash)
Genre: Science Fiction
Direction: Matt Reeves
Production: Peter Chernin, Dylan Clark, Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver (Chernin Entertainment and Dune Entertainment)
Written By: Mark Bomback, Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver
Based on: Characters created by Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Premise suggested by Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle
Cinematographer: Michael Seresin
Editor: William Hoy, Stan Salfas
Music: Michael Giacchino
Distributed by: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: 11th July, 2014 (India)
Language: English
Duration: 2 hours 11 minutes

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, a film by Matt Reeves, is extremely high on emotional side. It is great to see the emotional connect between humans and the apes. This movie really explores what happened after ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’. If ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ was spectacular, this is super-spectacular. The presentation of the movie is so natural and simple that one gets to relate with almost all the characters. Everyone has the right to live on this earth, be it animals or humans, one cannot afford to become the threat for the other. The evolved apes are trying to live their own lives and humans are in the struggle to survive. Each character, whether humans or apes, has been so well crafted and detailed. We get to feel their loss, fear, insecurity, efforts for survival etc. It is great to see the sentient apes, talking, expressing emotions like humans. Apes are shown to be quite rational and forgiving in comparison to humans. In spite of them having experienced human cruelty and imprisonment, now they want peace and just want to be free in their own world away from humans. This movie tells the story of how the declining humans and the ascendant apes come to be at war.

The movie begins from where the ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ finished. In the first film, humans gave the apes their intelligence with an experimental drug. Ten years later, humans have largely been wiped out by contagious and deadly side effects of the same experiment. A quick montage gives us an idea of all these happenings since Rise of the Planet of the Apes. It narrates the wake of a flu epidemic, followed by violence and chaos. As a result, Dr. Willman (James Franco) and other millions of people are dead.  Human civilization has become almost extinct. The survivors have cobbled together a society in the ruins of San Francisco, with Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) as their leader.

On the other side, apes are in the initial stage of their civilization. Initial frames of the movie shows Ceaser (Andy Serkis – what an amazing performance), leader of the apes, with his family and fellow apes in a forest. Outstanding scenes with the apes swinging off the trees, jumping off the walls. Blue eyes (Nick Thurston), teenage son of Caesar and Cornelia (Judy Greer) is shown to be impulsive and short-tempered. Koba (Tony Kebbell), Caesar’s adviser feels that Caesar is too affectionate towards humans. Koba has lot of angst towards human beings since he was a test subject for them all his life before he was freed by Caesar. Caesar’s second-in-command cum great friend is Rocket (Terry Notary), who is also the honorary uncle of Caesar’s children.

Humans and apes are almost oblivious to the existence of each other, but the situation changes when humans come face to face with Blue Eyes and Ash (Doc Shaw), Rocket’s teenage son. Humans had come there hoping to tap an energy source, basically to gain access to a hydroelectric dam (in apes’ territory) which could provide long-term power to the city. Ash is shot at by one of the human Carver (Kirk Acevedo). While Carver calls for rest of his fellow armed survivors, Blue Eyes calls for the other apes. Caesar orders the humans to leave. Prompted by Koba, Caesar brings the apes to the city where he orders the humans to never enter ape territory again.

Dreyfus believes that humans can survive only when the last ape is killed. According to him, after all, apes are just animals. Whereas, Malcolm (Jason Clarke), Ellie (Keri Russell, Malcolm’s second wife) and Alexander (Kodi Smit-McPhee, Malcolm’s son) feel otherwise. Malcolm convinces Dreyfus to give him three days to reconcile with the apes to gain access to the hydroelectric dam in their territory, which Dreyfus, distrustful of the apes, arms survivors using an abandoned armory. Caesar allows Malcolm to work on the dam's generator, provided they surrender their guns. Humans stand in stark contrast to the mostly peaceful apes, who are willing to accommodate the humans if that’s what it takes to avoid a war. As Malcolm, his partner Ellie, and son Alexander work, they bond with the apes.

Things are smooth when someone does a foul-play and humans and apes clash. Who plays the villain? Who emerges as the planet’s dominant species? Does the movie answer as to who is truly at fault for the ultimate destruction of humanity. Watch the movie.

The motion capture technology used here is also so perfect, which translates minutest details into animation. Andy Serkis as Caesar tops the list of performers in this movie. Caesar’s emotions, rage, sympathy, concern everything is so beautifully captured.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a Visual Extravaganza and has the right mix of emotions, actions, performances and technology. 

Rating: 4 / 5 (Very Good)