HOLLYWOOD—Many expected the 2011 flick “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” to flop, oh did it surprise many. The film starring James Franco and Freida Pinto was a critical and box-office surprise, so it was only fitting that a sequel was put in place, with Caesar (Andy Serkis) in the lead role, but Franco is M.I.A. in this installment.
This is the first time in awhile I can say the sequel outdoes its predecessor in so many ways. While this movie stars humans, the star is Caesar. The actor’s ability to capture the movements of this ape with such precision, detail and emotion is beyond amazing. Has a special effects performance ever been nominated for an Academy Award in the acting arena? If not, Serkis could indeed be the first.
The setting of the film takes place 10 years after the epidemic of the ALZ-113 virus has exposed the city of San Francisco with the ape breakout. Those humans and apes that have survived the epidemic are left in a post-apocalyptic world, where it’s apparent an all out-war has transpired. A select few humans have survived led by Malcolm (Jason Clarke), Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) and Ellie (Keri Russell). There is something about Oldman who portrays the villain in this movie that just oozes creepiness from the actor. No one plays evil the way Oldman does.
Dreyfus is planning a revolt to reclaim the land that the apes have taken, but Malcolm is concerned that another war won’t end well. Caesar hails as king of the apes who have survived the epidemic; they have manifested a civilization on the outskirts of the city. It’s amazing to see the loyalty that Caesar has amongst the apes; they respect him; they adore him; they listen to him. But with any civilization, there is always one willing to stray amongst the group which creates friction. The biggest friction is the apes discovering that humans are still amongst them; it ignites a fear where a dialogue is addressed: what do we do?
The humans are in need of eliminating a water blockage that has shut off all power to the city. There’s just one problem: that blockage is in the territory where the apes congregate. Its apparent neither the apes or the humans want to get along, and they want to prevent any other forms of violence taking place, so they decide its best to keep their distance, not cross paths, but its easier said than done.
Visually speaking “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” presents some of the most realistic depictions of chimps, apes, orangutans that I have ever, ever seen on the screen. Director Matt Reeves fully immerses the audience into a world that only one can imagine. Intelligence is a frightening thing; the more knowledge one obtains the more danger that one fears. Could humans soon suffer a war with mammals they have restricted, tested on? Absolutely, and this film examines those flaws with intelligence. When you attempt to control something as not only the humans, but Caesar himself discovers, people are bound to revolt. It’s unfortunate that through war, a winner and a loser is crown.
“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” while contrived for many to believe apes capable of speaking, firing machine guns and going on a rampage as being impossible, it sheds an even scarier ideal for the spectator: war has casualties rather we like it or not. This is not just an exciting movie, it’s the best fun I’ve had all summer long.