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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Review

5

Caesar and his apes have built a peaceful society, but can they learn to coexist with human survivors?

Rise of the Planet of the Apes did a successful job rebooting the popular franchise. Now it's up to director Matt Reeves to show us what happens after the Simian Flu wipes out most of humanity. Luckily for us, it's a terrific journey which gives both humans and apes a more than proper amount of focus.

First and foremost, the special effects are astonishing. From the overwhelming amount of emotion you can experience by looking into an ape's eyes to seeing its back soaked in rain, these visuals are phenomenal and never faltered. I kept looking to see if one ape would seem blatantly fake when there were massive crowds of them, but it didn't happen. The plot's constantly working to give the viewer an emotional connection to these fictional beings and the special effects always succeed in making you feel like they're right there on the set with the rest of the cast and crew. It's that good.

The action may not be frequent, but it's most definitely unforgettable. When the big assault finally happened, it kept my jaw dropped virtually the entire time. There was so much buildup to that scene and it delivered an amazingly gripping sequence. The finale is packed with spectacle and right when you think they're about to use a really cliche shot, they hit us with something totally unexpected and it's so very awesome. You begin to feel so invested in these characters and it really adds to the weight of these intense scenes.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes may have superb special effects and thrilling action sequences, but what makes it truly special is its character-driven narrative. The movie kept a tight grip on my emotions and refused to let go. I grew to care about these individuals and the dialogue-driven scenes -- which are a good chunk of the movie -- were incredibly engrossing. In fact, they're so good that you'll likely want to see more of them before the big finale approaches. The script isn't heavy-handed with its messages or loaded with exposition, either. Instead, characters often have what comes off as very natural dialogue and it makes them far more relatable. Sure, the story may take some very familiar steps, but these performances and conversations are so well crafted that it doesn't matter at all (that said, there are some good surprises thrown in the plot). Many of the shots compliment the scenes extremely well, too. There's one shot that's hugely impactful and does such a great job telling us about the plot without needing to actually say anything.

Much of the cast gets an opportunity to deliver an emotional beat and honestly, they all do a fine job. However, Andy Serkis steals the show and gives a downright brilliant performance as Caesar. It's consistently compelling and you always want to see more of the character. This movie puts its characters front and center and does great work showcasing them without ever hitting us with any forced or cheesy moments. Yes, there's a line or two that seemed unnecessary, but overall it's a praiseworthy script and juggles its characters very well.

The only complaint that comes to mind is the score occasionally felt a little too over the top. This movie offers some very powerful scenes and the music is more than fitting in those cases, but every now and then it seemed like a more influential song was misused. Again, this didn't happen often and is a pretty minor gripe.

Movies that rely on special effects tend to focus on pleasing your eyes but leave your brain in the dust. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes satisfies both equally. It has all of the elements required to be an excellent summer blockbuster -- amazing visuals and big action sequences -- but it also has a heartfelt script and offers a brilliant character-driven experience. It's intelligent, emotionally gripping, and full of spectacle. It's without question one of the most impressive movies to open this year and absolutely deserves to be seen on the big screen.

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Edited by Erik

YES!!!

Posted by eamon542000

Cant wait to see this

Posted by longbowhunter

Glad to hear it. Rise was one of my favorite movies of 2011. I've been anxiously awaiting the next installment. Good review Gregg.

Posted by MadeinBangladesh

I only hear positive things about this movie. Can't wait to watch it.

Posted by johnny_blaze

This movie further proves that Gorilla Grodd can be done in live action.

Online
Posted by StMichalofWilson

Amazing

Posted by scouts1998

I haven't seen the first one but people are saying really good things about it so i might have to watch them both

Posted by scouts1998

I haven't seen the first one but people are saying really good things about it so i might have to watch them both

Edited by k4tzm4n

@scouts1998 said:

I haven't seen the first one but people are saying really good things about it so i might have to watch them both

Yeah, I'd recommend watching the first just to have a better connection to the characters. But if you can't get around to seeing it before checking out this one, you'll be happy to know a lot of the basics are provided right in the intro.

Staff
Posted by New_World_Order

I need to watch this!

Posted by MonsterStomp

This review did nothing but make me jealous. I loved the first film, and I'm really excited for the second film. Glad to read such positive results :)

Edited by dondave

Sweet

Online
Posted by War Killer

I enjoyed Rise and look forward to seeing this movie as well.

Posted by ULTRAstarkiller

Yaaas!

Posted by NightFang

Cool

Posted by Lee_Everett

Can't wait!

Online
Posted by Lvenger

I might need to go and watch this in the cinema rather than wait for DVD. The reboot was amazing and if the sequel can surpass it as indicated in your review, then Dawn should be a superb film to say the least.

Posted by Spideysense44

I only hear positive things about this movie. Can't wait to watch it.

Posted by Inverno

I felt like the trailer gave away too much of the movie.

Posted by SupBatz

Rise of the Planet of the Apes was spectacular. At first, I was disappointed to hear that the sequel would essentially give us a whole new set of human characters without reference to our human characters from the first film. But all of the positive feedback has really gotten me pumped for the sequel. Friday cannot come fast enough!

Posted by Mekboy

I just found out that only a few theaters in my country will show this. F**king bulls**t.

Posted by Oscars94

Well I'm hyped. That CGI is beautiful.

Posted by MannEffest
Posted by dagmar_merrill

@lvenger said:

I might need to go and watch this in the cinema rather than wait for DVD. The reboot was amazing and if the sequel can surpass it as indicated in your review, then Dawn should be a superb film to say the least.

I thought this was a prequel not a reboot?

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Posted by Lvenger

@lvenger said:

I might need to go and watch this in the cinema rather than wait for DVD. The reboot was amazing and if the sequel can surpass it as indicated in your review, then Dawn should be a superb film to say the least.

I thought this was a prequel not a reboot?

Maybe so but I thought there was a prior reason as to why the apes evolved and took over that was in the original Planet of The Apes film.

Posted by dagmar_merrill

@lvenger: That's certainty a possibility. I've only seen the original and rise of the planet of the apes.

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Posted by Lvenger

@lvenger: That's certainty a possibility. I've only seen the original and rise of the planet of the apes.

Same here.

Posted by RobotinDisguise

damned dirty humans!

Posted by Ninjablade09

Huh, I'm really excited for this movie, and I loved Rise, but for some reason I feel Planet of the Apes doesn't really work nowadays. It feels and looks kinda goofy watching CGI Apes firing guns and riding horses. Maybe if it was make up I'd feel better, but then you' loose Andy Serkis' great performances. I'll see it next weekend, but I'm very on the fence. All the positive reviews is great though!

Edited by sagejonathan

Very happy to hear this! I loved the first movie, no matter what everyone else said. Happy to here this is just as good, if not better!

Posted by k4tzm4n

Huh, I'm really excited for this movie, and I loved Rise, but for some reason I feel Planet of the Apes doesn't really work nowadays. It feels and looks kinda goofy watching CGI Apes firing guns and riding horses. Maybe if it was make up I'd feel better, but then you' loose Andy Serkis' great performances. I'll see it next weekend, but I'm very on the fence. All the positive reviews is great though!

As someone who enjoyed Rise but thought Caesar riding a horse in it looked and felt silly, you'll be happy to know that same thought never crossed my mind during Dawn.

Staff
Edited by Ninjablade09

@k4tzm4n said:

@ninjablade09 said:

Huh, I'm really excited for this movie, and I loved Rise, but for some reason I feel Planet of the Apes doesn't really work nowadays. It feels and looks kinda goofy watching CGI Apes firing guns and riding horses. Maybe if it was make up I'd feel better, but then you' loose Andy Serkis' great performances. I'll see it next weekend, but I'm very on the fence. All the positive reviews is great though!

As someone who enjoyed Rise but thought Caesar riding a horse in it looked and felt silly, you'll be happy to know that same thought never crossed my mind during Dawn.

That's good to hear. Probably feel a lot better watching it in the theater than on a computer screen.

Posted by k4tzm4n

@k4tzm4n said:

@ninjablade09 said:

Huh, I'm really excited for this movie, and I loved Rise, but for some reason I feel Planet of the Apes doesn't really work nowadays. It feels and looks kinda goofy watching CGI Apes firing guns and riding horses. Maybe if it was make up I'd feel better, but then you' loose Andy Serkis' great performances. I'll see it next weekend, but I'm very on the fence. All the positive reviews is great though!

As someone who enjoyed Rise but thought Caesar riding a horse in it looked and felt silly, you'll be happy to know that same thought never crossed my mind during Dawn.

That's good to hear. Probably feel a lot better watching it in the theater than on a computer screen.

Definitely!

Staff
Posted by Lurkero

I enjoyed the first movie and I've only heard positives about the second. Looks like I'm in.

Posted by dreamfall31

Thought the first one was pretty good. Hoping this one is as amazing as early buzz has been!

Posted by Ostyo

My only problem with the first film was with how the Apes lacked any true antagonistic qualities of the Apes from the original films. You had the one bad ape, but that was really about it.

Hopefully this film takes steps to move them towards that villainous turn?

Edited by k4tzm4n

@ostyo said:

My only problem with the first film was with how the Apes lacked any true antagonistic qualities of the Apes from the original films. You had the one bad ape, but that was really about it.

Hopefully this film takes steps to move them towards that villainous turn?

You'll be happy to know that Koba, the ape you're talking about, plays a big role in the movie.

Staff
Posted by Astro_Zombie78

Glad it's getting good reviews. I liked the first one. So I definitely want to see this one.

Edited by Novemberx2

I'm already looking forward to the sequel "brunch of the planet of the apes"

Posted by Ostyo
Posted by Rorie

Man, Golden Gate Bridge just can't get a break lately.

Staff
Posted by Oscars94

"What's a great snack to bring to this movie?"

"Caesar Salad". (I'm so sorry).

Posted by SlickyMike88

Damn dirty apes ;P

Posted by dbatdog

Saw this last night and one of the best movies this year so far! :)

Posted by The_Deathstroker

Can't wait to see it.

Edited by k4tzm4n

@dbatdog said:

Saw this last night and one of the best movies this year so far! :)

Agreed! Tempted to see it a second time.

Staff
Posted by Bio Guyver

Just watched it. Though I hated him, Koba stole the show for me. When he went "happy-trigger" gangster on the humans, all I could say was,"You damn, dirty ape."

Posted by Krypton-115

I'm so freaking excited for this movie, the first one was an amazing suprise.

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