The Planet of the Apes has found its Empire Strikes Back.
Caesar and his band of intelligent apes return in a powerfully emotional and thrilling sequel to 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Dawn is proof that Hollywood Blockbusters can be both action-packed entertainment as well as intelligently heartfelt.
I know he only played Gollum in Lord of the Rings, but you’d think Andy Serkis was a Wizard. The way he brings the computer-generated Caesar to life and breathes so much emotional complexity into the character is unreal. He is a real hero, with real flaws. And the same goes for the rest — these apes are probably some of the more well-rounded characters you’ll spend time with all summer.
Dawn‘s not perfect — it’s a little long, and some characters (such as Gary Oldman’s) seem unnecessary. But the film features some beautiful cinematography, a sweeping soundtrack from Michael Giacchino, awe-inspiring digital animation, and rich storytelling with deep thoughts on loyalty, conflict, and morality.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes isn’t concerned as much with blowing up everything in its sight. It’s concerned with telling a rich story and offering a heartbreaking look at a leader continually forced to choose the lesser of two evils.
The moment when Caesar embraces his friend Malcolm — one ape, one human, both knowing there’s nothing either can do to stop a coming war between their species — is easily one of the most beautifully poignant scenes in recent memory.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is rated PG-13 for “intense sequences of scifi violence and action.” There’s a brief amount of language, and the majority of the plot focuses around violence between two groups.
© Matt Tory, 2014.