Dawn of the Planet of the Apes begins a few years after Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Ceasar (Andy Serkis) is now the fearless leader of the apes, he's trying to both help settle a community as well as care for his newly founded family. On the other side of the city lives the few remaining humans, the ones that are immune to the deadly virus given off by apes. In an attempt to survive, the two species must go to war. A war which will determine which species will go on to rule.
I'm going to begin by stating that I'm a big fan of the Planet of the Apes movies. The original Planet of the Apes film is an absolute masterpiece, upon seeing it for the first time it just blew my mind away. There's nothing like it. Then the sequels came along and a few were good, but they were mostly a letdown. It wasn't until Rise of the Planet of the Apes came along a few years ago, that I could officially get excited for a new Planet of the Apes movie. The film was just shy of topping the original. Now we have Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and it exceeded all previous expectations.
The film is part thriller, part survival movie and part war movie, but it blends perfectly. The first of the Planet of the Apes prequels, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, was about evolution. It was about telling the story of how Earth transformed into the ape ruled planet we know from the original series. This time around the film takes a much darker turn. The film perfectly blends all the best elements of the first film, the original films, survival movies and even war movies. Its engaging story and brilliant performances mould together to make a cinematic masterpiece, instantly getting a spot in my top ten films so far this year.
The special effects are superior to all the previous Apes movies. If there wasn't a little film called 'Gravity' that was released last year, then I would be stating the fact that the CGI in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is the best CGI we've had since Avatar. It not only looks authentic, but it feels it too. While watching people dressed up in ape costumes is part of the reason the originals are so fun, the realistic manner of these apes makes the film even more believable. This is, of course, largely thanks to the performances of the actors. Not just the human actors, but the actors, such as Andy Serkis, who play the apes. Andy Serkis is living evidence that humans evolved from apes.
There's only one problem I had with the film and that is the fact that there's no distinct protagonist. The film begins by setting up Ceasar's story, with the implication that he will be our main character. It soon cuts away to the human element of the film with the implication that Malcom, played incredibly by Jason Clarke, is our protagonist. Once the humans and the apes intertwine stories, these characters go on to fight for our attention. There's no standout protagonist for the entire length of the movie.
To sum up, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is an absolute cinematic landmark that exceeds its already incredible predecessor. The performances are brilliant, the special effects mind-blowing and the darker execution handled well.
4 1/2 Stars