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The Warsaw Voice » World of Movies » August 1, 2014
Film review
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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
August 1, 2014   
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Three years ago, Rise of the Planet of the Apes gave a new lease of life to Franklin J. Schaffner’s 1968 sci-fi classic Planet of the Apes, in which the Earth is ruled by chimps with a human level of intelligence while the humans are slaves. The 2011 prequel was set in contemporary times, depicting how apes came to dominate the planet. After Tim Burton made a failed remake of Planet of the Apes a decade ago, few thought the struggle between chimps and humans could still prove a draw, but the 2011 film did so well at the box office that follow-ups to it were only a matter of time.

The first one is Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. It is directed by Matt Reeves (Let Me In, Cloverfield), who has done a good job. The $170-million movie raked in $72 million on the opening weekend alone, when it became the most-watched film in America. It also shot straight into the Internet Movie Database’s list of top 250 movies of all time, ranked at number 161 with a rating of 8.3 out of 10.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes starts 10 years after the events depicted in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. A mysterious virus called ALZ-113 has escaped from laboratories and decimated the human population worldwide while causing rapid intellectual development in apes. Previously imprisoned in labs and zoos, the apes are now running free and doing better than ever, evolving and learning new skills, such as the use of guns. The forests north of San Francisco are populated by a large ape community that is growing under the leadership of Caesar, the main character of the movie from three years ago. This remarkable ape is played by Andy Serkis (Lord of the Rings movies, King Kong), whose on-screen appearance has been changed beyond recognition by clever CGI effects and make-up. Even as a baby, Caesar showed signs of genius and as the leader of the apes, he seeks peace between his species and the human survivors, cherishing memories of scientist Will Rodman (James Franco—127 Hours, Spring Breakers), his first owner and educator. But some of Caesar’s close advisors would rather see humans eradicated once and for all. One of them is Koba, Caesar’s second-in-command, whose innate cunning puts him on a par with humans, the species he hates with such passion. On the human side of the barricades there are also hardliners who want to see all apes wiped off the face of the planet. The human survivors in San Francisco are led by Dreyfus (Gary Oldman—Harry Potter movies, Leon, Batman Begins), a man who believes that negotiations with the apes are best conducted with grenade launchers. Despite efforts by Caesar and a handful of peacefully disposed humans, most of them scientists, conflict is inevitable.

Like Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the new Reeves movie boasts impressive special effects and sets, especially in the battle scenes. The filmmakers were careful not to show too much cruelty so that the movie could receive a PG-13 rating. Serkis is without doubt the star of this movie and his role as Caesar at times surpasses the superb performance he gave as Gollum in the Lord of the Rings. The next part of the never-ending apes vs. humans saga has been unofficially announced for 2016.
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