Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes
A worthy sequel to 2011's summer box-office surprise Rise of the Planet of the Apes, but like the first instalment, the star of the show is Andy Serkis and the animation. The human actors - as awesome as Keri Russell always is (seriously, any movie with her in it instantly gets bumped up half a notch at least) - and the storyline are secondary considerations. Actually, in this case, I might actually put them as tertiary, with Michael Giacchino's outstanding score, Matt Reeves' confident directing and Michael Seresin's striking lensing as the next most outstanding aspect of this movie.
Back in 2011, I mentioned that the sequel may be Outbreak-ish in nature, but thankfully the writers (Mark Bomback, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver) and Reeves decided to skip all that and go straight to the aftermath, and we really see how "The Planet of the Apes" took its first steps into becoming a reality. A sad, but surprisingly, heartfelt and painfully truthful moment in the mythology.
Reeves' directing has improved much since Cloverfield and Let Me In. Two relatively low-budget genre films that did kind of paved his way to this big budget, special-effects, sci-fi movie. And, boy did he deliver. Reeves managed to capture the emotional struggle of an ape fighting for what he believes in spite of doubt and betrayal. Humans, with all their hubris and short-sightedness, are really just part of the landscape as we watched more in fascination the internal politics of the apes - and how scarily it mirrored humanity.
The action sequences were very well done and choreographed. In particular the penultimate clash and the final, climatic fight. Also a stand out was the scene when Caesar spoke to the humans.
Keri Russell - Matt Reeves' was her ex-boss on Felicity - was wasted here. Have they not witnessed the astounding work she is currently doing on Showtime's The Americans? And also seriously, this film embarrassingly fails Bechdel's Test (J.J. Abrams influence is showing...).
Jason Clarke was alright. Gary Oldman was so wasted too. And Kodi Smit-McPhee (the boy from Reeves' Let Me In - this movie is getting incestuous!) has sure grown up.
Giacchino's score is amazing. In a movie where for most parts there are no verbal dialogue, the music will then surely come to the fore. And Giacchino's penchent for strings and brass really facilitated the audience's connection with the show and the digital cast.
Seresin does not lens much but there were two striking and memorable moments that he captured on screen. *slight spoilers* the moment when Blue Eyes was standing with Koba and fire was raging on behind, and final scene itself. *end spoilers*.
I did not watch it in 3D, but other than the final act which was filmed a bit dimly, this film might actually benefit from it. There were some strange ape like sounds towards the end of the end credits, but whether this means anything...well, the internet will let us know!