So, I just got back from viewing 20th Century Fox's, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and I must say I was blown the living hell away by this movie! Every aspect of this film, for me, was damned near perfection. The characters, both ape and human, the tone, the direction, the visuals; there was so much to love about this film. The one issue I had with it, was that it kinda felt like Battle of the Planet of the Apes set in the modern day... But done a million times better. So, with my overall thoughts on the film out of the way, let's take a look at some of the more intricate aspects of the film...
In a film where your pro and antagonist are men of few words, character development for them may seem a little daunting. But the film handles the ape characters in a brilliant way. The use of sign language amongst the apes from early on in the film actually helps to draw you into this new and strange world. The subtitles aren't distracting either, which seems to be something a lot of people really care abut with movies. The film focuses the most around Caesar and his family, by extension, his kingdom of apes. We see he and Koba as brotherly figures from very early on in the film and that is one of the key elements around which the film revolves. Another interesting character dynamic we see is between that of Caesar and his son Blue-Eyes. It's established quite early on in the film that there is a tension between these two characters and it holds up well throughout the movie, especially towrds the end. As you've probably heard from other reviews however, the human characters do get the short end of the stick. They're underdeveloped but not in an unforgivable way, because I found myself still caring about what happened to them throughout the film which isn't a bad sign if you ask me. All in all, despite human characters being put on the backburner, characters that are focused on get developed incredibly well in a way I never thought possible! You really end up hating Koba in this film and you can't help but feel for the tragic hero, Caesar. On a sidenote; Toby Kebbell? Gonna stick out like a sore thumb as the best thing in the FF reboot, mark my words.
This film is dark from the outset. The film opens with a scene showing the apes hunting Deer and the sequence was terrifically done. The keen-eared sci-fi fan may also have heard the eery chant from 2001: A Space Odyssey playing in the background of this scene. As soon as I heard that music, I thought of 2001's twenty minute "Dawn of man" sequence in which we see apes learn the ways of violence. That single piece of music established this film's tone for me. I immediately knew this film was going to deal with the rising of violence and the end to peace. It was also an incredibly poweful sequence as it made me think, "This is what it must have been like as early hominid apes." You get a real sense of this new world where one species is developing while the others remain in their place. The dark tone holds up throughout the film, especially when focus shifts to Koba and his goals and we see that not all is well in the ape community. The condition of the humans also holds up with the film's dark tone as they practically live in squalor. Overall, the tone of the movie withstands throughout and manages to keep reminding you that this sin't the same world we left in 2011's Rise.
I'm astonished Andy Serkis hasn't won an Oscar for his motion capture work. Once again, he delviers an unbeleivable performance and he really is the glue that holds this film together. Serkis' voice alon can shift to so many different tones and it really helps in developing Caesar's character as he goes from a strong leader to a loving father at the drop of a pin. As I said before, Toby Kebbell is gonna smash it as Dr. Doom and that's my opinion based on his performance in this film. Koba is now one of my favourite villains in film history and it all comes down to Toby's portrayal of the character and how brilliantly he managed to convey Koba's emotions onscreen. The humans we actually focus on are all just desparate and that's how the acting portrays them. So, considering the humans are supposed to be desparate in the film, I guess it's just a minor flaw that this is how most the actors seem pretty much the entire time they're onsceen. I wasn't much into the human characetrs, but I think that falls more to the fact that the focus is on the apes, not the humans so I'm not gonna blame the acting for my lack of interest in the humans.
The film's dominant message is that of an anti-gun message, but I looked beyond that and looked more at the film as a whole. To me, the film's message is that united, as one species, we are strong. Divide us and we become weak. I can't go into too much detail here without spoiling the movie but I assume from the trailers you sussed out that Koba gets guns. He becomes the power because he and his followers have guns. I found that the film's message is not to let power fall into the wrong hands because you never know how they're gonna use it *cough*American Government*cough*. Sorry, had something on my chest there. But yeah, go into this film with an open mind and interpret it yourself.
Yep, I'd score this movie a perfect five stars. Sure, the human characters go slightly underdeveloped, but this is Planet of the Apes, we came to watch apes not humans! The character dynamics are flawless, the acting is superb for the most part, the tone holds up throughout and best of all, it carries on the great apes movie tradition of social commentary.
What did you think of the movie? Did you also notice that eery chanting from 2001: A Space Odyssey in the opening sequence? Just to refresh it in your head, listen to it down below! The music comes in around the 4:00 mark. Be sure to leave your thoughts on the movie in the comments section! Till next time CBM!
On a funny little sidenote, after buying my tickets, I realised they were the wrong ones so I got them replaced, so I accidentally contributed to the box office of none other than... Transfromers: Age of Extinction. I'm not proud.