Spoiler filled review of Dawn of planet of the apes

17 Jul

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Dawn of planet of  the apes is second blockbuster this summer in which CGI characters far out shine the human actors. The first was Michael Bay’s Transformers: Age of Extinction, which with all honesty wasn’t hard to do thanks to Mark Wagoner and company’s lackluster performances.  Optimus Prime can’t hold Caesar’s banana peels when it comes to acting or leading.   Matt Reeves Dawn of planet of the Apes is far more ambitious with its CGI stars and that’s what makes this movie great.

This movie picks up right where last one ended.  With Caesar leading his ape army into the California redwoods,  and  the Simian virus wiping out most of humanity.   During opening credits we get some newscasts and charts depicting human societies demise.  A variety of clips are shown from reporters to President Obama, until a realtime image of earth goes dark.

We than get a look into the fascinating ape civilization Caesar has built over the past ten years.  The apes communicate with sign language and English words. We see how they  hunt using spears and strategy.  Ape education, taught by Maurice from first film who’s back and loveable as ever.  They have a version of doctors who assist in birth of Caesar’s second son.  The apes even have laws “ape no kill ape”. I was captivated by their culture that I wish the human’s never showed up.

Eventually they do, lead by Malcolm  (Jason Clarke) aka the man in the yellow hat.  Hes with a small group of survivors from San Francisco venturing into Apeland in hopes of using a dam to  power the city.  This leads to hostility between Caesar and his old scarfaced pal Koba or as I like to call him Koba commander.   Koba hates humans and Caesar having been raised by one even though it was James Franco, has less ill feelings towards human’s.

Koba betrays Caesar with an assassination attempt and frames the human’s.  Using Caesars fall as an excuse to rally the apes and wage war on the unsuspecting humans.  The apes would have no chance to win chucking spears and rocks.  However Koba commander raids an armory and arms his simian army with fire power.  We are than witness to an intense battle between mankind versus ape.

Gary Oldman leads the defense but is overwhelmed by Koba commander and his ferocious charging followers.   Apes win and take humans prisoner, giving them a taste at life in a cage.  He also locks you Maurice and any other ape loyal to Caesar.   Meanwhile Casear is alive and being tended to by Malcolm and his family.  They hideout in Caesars old home from the first film.  Caesar’s son who rebelled (like most teens) all movie long finally sides with his father.

Once well enough Caesar heads into a final and glorious battle against Koba.  We watch then swing and pound eachother across a construction site high rise.  In the end Caesar wins and his apes rally against him.

Andy Serkis received top billing in this film as Caesar and rightfully so.  He stole the show in the first movie and does it again.   He is a motion capture acting specialist.   As much credit is due to the amazing special effects team.  Not only do these apes look eerily real, the way the faces express emotions blew me away.  I believe Serkis could play a more realistic cgi James Franco or Mark Wahlberg than they could   of themselves.

All of the apes stood out in this Oscar worthy visual production. I know  the human’s brought conflict to the plot but I do hope the next installment in this franchise is all about the Apes.  Dawn of planet of the apes is a smart, ambitious and stunning film that knocks it out of the park in every way possible.   Its and sure to be an instant classic.

I give it a 9.6 out of 10

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