Ror Reviews: DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES

Matt Reeves' follow up to ROTPOTA has been out stateside for a week or so, but it only hits UK/Ireland theaters tomorrow. So for our readers from that neck of the woods, you can find out what your friendly neighborhood Rormachine thought of the film after the jump.

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By Mark "RorMachine" Cassidy - 7/17/2014
After Tim Burton's dismal direct remake of Planet Of The Apes, 2011's prequel/reboot surprised us all by being pretty damn good. That movie took us back to the source of what kick-started the ape "uprising", and also what led to the extinction of most of the human race. Now we drop in on events almost 10 years later, with Caesar (Andy Serkis) having made a home for he and his fellow apes in the forest, and the last remaining human survivors of the simian flue scattered around in various outposts. When need drives Malcolm (Jason Clarke) and his people into Caesar's habitat...well, we all know where this story ends.



Yes, we'll eventually see a human/ape standoff which will set the scene for the events of the original film, but first we have all the really good stuff. For as exciting (and at times bloody intense) as the action scenes in DOTPOTA are, it's in the quieter moments before the storm that this movie really shines.

Although Caesar was obviously a major part of Rise, James Franco shared the screen in most of his scenes. Here he is the main focus and Dawn is all the better for it. The first film built him up as a character we cared deeply about and wanted to see find a peaceful life for himself and his kind, and that's multiplied considerably when we find out that he's now a father, husband and leader of a massive colony of apes. Throughout the film the scenes between he and his fellow primates (in particular his son Blue-Eyes and the duplicitous Koba) stand out as the most moving, and potentially devastating. Koba (the scar-faced bonobo we met in Rise, here played by future Doctor Doom Toby Kebbel) is another standout. His hated and mistrust of the humans is understandable, and we empathize with him right up to the point the writers feel the need to completely demonize him. It was probably inevitable, but the Caesar/Koba dynamic is much more interesting when you can see both sides.

Unfortunately the human characters don't come out as well. The likes of Jason Clarke, Keri Russel, Gary Oldman and Kodi Smit-McPhee all deliver fine performances and even (arguably) have enough screen-time to potentially make an impact, it's just that the script doesn't make best use of their scenes, and we never really care that much about what may become of them.

As far as underlying themes go, they're never exactly subtle (if you miss the anti-gun message you're probably asleep) but here it makes them no less affecting. If the musings on family, trust and man's inability to live in peace are a little on the nose, so be it -- we're always invested enough in the story to be moved by them anyway.

Overall, a  bleak but brilliant follow up to Rise, that'll keep you riveted while also giving you some food for thought, and may even make you shed a tear or two. Some character issues aside, this is a must see. Oh, and the special effects are so incredible that I completely forgot that I was watching CG apes, and to make note of them for this review.
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93 Comments
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dio - 7/17/2014, 5:40 PM
How many bottles of whiskey do you give it Ror?
dio - 7/17/2014, 5:40 PM
Dude if it's anything like the first , I am gonna love it!
SuperCat - 7/17/2014, 5:41 PM
Yeah. We want to see a rating system, Ror. I can't read :)
SuperCat - 7/17/2014, 5:44 PM
Just had my 13-year-old nephew read it to me. Great review!
RorMachine - 7/17/2014, 5:45 PM
Ha, sorry I haven't done away with the star rating I just forgot to add it. 4 bottles.
ndwwrestler2 - 7/17/2014, 5:47 PM
I thought the human characters were pretty good. But I understand why others may feel the way they do.

And the part about "demonizing" Koba, I mean c'mon, watch the first movie and tell me that wasn't a bad egg from the start.

Anyway, Good review. Thumbs up.
NightWatcher - 7/17/2014, 5:47 PM
@Supercat

Lol
RorMachine - 7/17/2014, 5:54 PM
He wasn't bad from the start, he just hated human..who'd tortured him! At the beginning of this film that's the same, but then they

SPOILER

..have him turn against his own kind..and that happened a little too quickly for my liking.
ndwwrestler2 - 7/17/2014, 6:00 PM
@Ror I get that, but if you remember, (SPOILER) he did get a Caesar ass-whooping, which probably made the decision to betray his kind a bit easier. A person can change quickly when their pride is damaged.
SuperCat - 7/17/2014, 6:02 PM
The Best Villain of the Year award has to go to Koba. Ruthless!
Klone - 7/17/2014, 6:03 PM
Enjoy it a lot. Favorite scene was Caesar discovering the camera and his fight with Koba at the end.
InfiniteMonkey - 7/17/2014, 6:03 PM
Bring in the BANANAS!!!

Cool review but the proof is in the bananas.
TheAbaryMan369 - 7/17/2014, 6:05 PM
Good review. I was thinking of seeing it today or tomorrow because that's the only time I'll get the chance to.
Havenless - 7/17/2014, 6:06 PM
Ror, which ape did Shailene Woodley play?
Klone - 7/17/2014, 6:09 PM
Havenless you evil, diabolical bastard I love you for that comment!
NovaCorpsFan - 7/17/2014, 6:10 PM
@Havenless
You twat. Why bring that up after so long?
RorMachine - 7/17/2014, 6:10 PM
She wasn't in this one Havenless, you're thinking of Dawn of The Planet of The Cancer patients.
dio - 7/17/2014, 6:10 PM
lmao off Ror. Four bottles is a must see in my eyes! Good shit man.
RorMachine - 7/17/2014, 6:11 PM
Sorry, Fault In our Apes.
McGee - 7/17/2014, 6:11 PM
Cut the bullshit, Ror.

Is it better than "Harry and the Hendersons" or not?
NovaCorpsFan - 7/17/2014, 6:12 PM
Seeing it on Sunday. And I don't mind people being anti-guns, but forcefully taking them from people who have the constitutional right to bear arms in order to form a militia should the government go sour is just not right.

I'm not even American.
McGee - 7/17/2014, 6:12 PM
Havenless and Ror both just made my day.

*sniff*
Klone - 7/17/2014, 6:14 PM
@Nova

From what I gather, they (whoever they is I don't know) want the guns so any civil unrest doesn't get too violent and out of hand.

Now give me some lucky charms.
Klone - 7/17/2014, 6:15 PM
Dawn of The Planet of The Cancer Patients.

I must see this film!
MrCBM56 - 7/17/2014, 6:19 PM
Loved the cameo by King Kong. That was a shocker. Hope he returns in the third film.
EzioKenway1225 - 7/17/2014, 6:19 PM
my favorite film of he summer so far!!!!, the performances were amazing,i was so emotionally invested in Caesar and The Apes,the human characters were fine imo, the action was very well done,Koba was awesome too, no one was really a "villain" imo, they all believed what they were doing was right and i loved that.just great stuff throughout...the standouts were Andy Serkis and Toby Kebell as Caesar and Koba respectively...GREAT FRICKING MOVIE!!!, next one for me is Guardians, hopefully that is good too
Klone - 7/17/2014, 6:20 PM
If I hear an ape referred to as a monkey one more time then I'll... I'LL... I'LL BITCH YOU OUT SOME MORE!!!
McGee - 7/17/2014, 6:26 PM
Klone...did you see this movie yet?

And if yes...did they show Gibbons this time, or were they once again assed out because they're not "great apes"?
MrCBM56 - 7/17/2014, 6:28 PM
Loved the cameo by Donkey Kong in the post credits scene. that was also a shocker.
EzioKenway1225 - 7/17/2014, 6:29 PM
Caesar is the best character of the year imo.the emotion in the eyes and his body language..you know who the leader is and dont mess with him
THEDARKKNIGHT1939 - 7/17/2014, 6:31 PM
5/5 for me
SauronsBANE - 7/17/2014, 6:33 PM
Fantastic movie, solid 7 or 7.5 out of 10 for me, but I agree with Ror about one pretty glaring weakness.

SPOILERS

When Koba finally turns against Caesar and the rest, and takes the lead in order to attack the humans, it was just so ridiculously rushed. I get that he had a legitimate beef with Caesar that built up throughout the movie, but he went from warning Blue-Eyes that he needs to protect Caesar's life at all costs a few scenes earlier...to shooting him in cold blood and lying about it.

That, and the lack of meaningful screentime for most of the humans (most notably Gary Oldman's character) keeps this from being The Dark Knight of the Apes movies, IMO. Easily in the top 3 best movies this year so far though! Great review.
Klone - 7/17/2014, 6:34 PM
@Gee

Chimpanzees, gorillas, an orangutan and bonobos. No gibbons.
EzioKenway1225 - 7/17/2014, 6:35 PM
the movies i saw this summer were TASM2(which was decent imo),Godzilla(which i really liked) X Men DOFP( great) Edge of Tomorrow ( my second favorite film of the summer),

(i havent been able to watch 22 Jump Street and How to Train Your Dragon 2 and i probably wont be able to watch them until they get on DVD :( )
Klone - 7/17/2014, 6:36 PM
The human characters were pretty bland, despite the actors doing well. The main female lead didn't really have any traits over than some medical knowledge and the secondary male lead had none other than artistic talent.
421YoloSwag - 7/17/2014, 6:36 PM
this movie sucked a giant [frick]ing donkey dick. it was 2 hours of boring monkey shit and no fighting other than 5 minutes of stupid shit. this [frick]ing stupid [frick]ing movie was worse than the [frick]ing first boring as shit movie.
Klone - 7/17/2014, 6:37 PM
These [frick]ers are the real masterminds to Caesar's colony:
Klone - 7/17/2014, 6:38 PM
@420

Your opinion however they are not monkeys. What are they? It's in the title!
421YoloSwag - 7/17/2014, 6:39 PM
apes or [frick]ing monkeys doesnt [frick]ing matter the movie [frick]ing sucked a dick. and yes its my [frick]ing opinion so mind your own [frick]ing business
ManCalledSting - 7/17/2014, 6:40 PM
I wish I had watched this today, instead Crapformers. Man that was bad.
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