Posted by: greercn | July 24, 2014

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Why does Caesar – leader of the apes – wear makeup that makes him look like he’s supporting England in international football? That white background and red stripe are the colours worn by fans who had their hopes crushed in Brazil last month.

Within a few scenes, Caesar has lost the face paint. His apes have settled near San Francisco, although most of this was filmed in Louisiana. It’s a post-apocalyptic world. People have (almost) been wiped out by “simian flu”, which is really the drug devised and discussed in “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”.

Human beings need power – the electricity kind – so a small group of humans venture to an old dam, hoping to get lights, communications and computers working again in the ruined remains of San Francisco.

This puts them in the middle of the ape encampment.

Most apes and most humans want peace. Do some want an excuse for war? Of course they do.

“Dawn” starts slowly, with Caesar’s family and world shown in detail. It’s a lush world, with multiple levels and personalities. There is lots of terrific CGI.

When the war comes, it’s startling and visually extraordinary. Filmed in ways that combine the classic Western and the war movie, you could get vertigo just from watching a few scenes here.

It’s a great movie. The plot zooms along. The 130 minutes could have been slimmed down to 110 by cutting a few of those lingering “I care for you” moments that cloy and add nothing to the story

You don’t have to have seen “Rise” to get this. It would be nice if writer Pierre Boulle was given more credit, since it’s his 1963 book that first explored the ideas here. He’s been dead since 1994, so he probably won’t sue, but his credit here is an afterthought.

I saw it in a fairly full Stratford East Picturehouse and the audience stayed quiet and respectful, although I did see phones flash “on” during some of those lengthy emotional moments.

I went with a friend who normally doesn’t like this type of film and he said he enjoyed it. He hadn’t seen “Rise”, either.

Matt Reeves directs efficiently, the soundtrack is good and Gary Oldman and Jason Clarke give good performances as the main humans.

Andy Serkis is effective as Caesar, although it’s the makeup and CGI teams who deserve the biggest plaudits.

See it. I saw it in 2D, purely for the lightness of the screen, comparatively. I imagine the 3D is wonderful, albeit dark.


  1. A very exciting blockbuster that also has plenty of heart added to the proceedings as well. Good review Greer.

  2. Another SA filmed one? I didn’t know. I do know about Dredd, Avengers Age of Ultron and Northmen though.

  3. I do get a bit geeky about finding out what the filming locations are. Those choices of countries and venues intrigue me.

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