In 2011 Rise of the Planet of the Apes successfully reinvented the stalled franchise. Providing an intelligent approach to the material whilst having the requisite action, it proved popular with audiences and critics.
Its sequel Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is just as effective. Continuing the engrossing story of ape vs human, it benefits from the new century’s reliance on CGI. Enabling a believability the original series could only have wished, the new Apes continuation gathers at a more furious pace in its latest instalment.
A decade after a lethal virus has destroyed most of humanity, its remnants attempt to survive. This is made harder with the presence of a group of genetically evolved apes led by Caesar (Andy Serkis). Malcolm (Jason Clarke), a prominent member of the human tribe, wants to form a bond with the simian inhabitants. Unfortunately others from both the ape and human camp want to seize Earth as their true home. With the battle between them intensifying, only one group can survive and claim ultimate victory.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes successfully adds more textures to its predecessor. Having its non-human characters display a myriad of emotions mostly without actually speaking is no mean feat. That the movie pulls it off is a credit to the performers and animators. Unlike most CGI-driven films, Dawn is in a class of its own with some magnificent effects. This aids in allowing for full immersion into its world with the apes becoming more interesting than their human counterparts.
The amazing CGI highlights how the Planet of the Apes concept works much better now than when it first appeared. Free of the ‘people in monkey suits’ hampering enjoyment of the original movies, the new apes feel more natural and real. The action sequences underscore this freedom of movement with the creativity gone into them evident. Director Matt Reeves excels himself with these scenes but also allows the story to breathe. This isn’t a simple sequel cash-in – genuine thought has gone into crafting a gripping tale of conflict, betrayal and survival.
Building on the success of its forebear, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a worthy follow-up. Continually arresting until its final frame, it whets the appetite for the expected next outing of the animalistic series.
Reviewed by Patrick Moore
Rating out of 10: 8