For the generation that missed out on the original 1968 classic, the title Planet of the Apes may conjure up dreadful memories of Tim Burton’s 2001 re-hashed monstrosity. Luckily however, the franchise has recently been given the shot in the arm that it so evidently needed.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (sequel to the acclaimed Rise of the Planet of the Apes) takes place 10 years after humanity has all but been wiped out by a deadly simian virus. Apes now live in a utopian colony in the foothills of San Francisco’s Bay Area, communicating via sign language and broken monosyllabic English, a skill that has been passed down by their benevolent and wise leader Caesar. The memory of homosapiens has now become the stuff of legend and are thought to be completely extinct. However, when an expedition of curious humans searching for a natural energy source for their own dwindling settlement accidentally stumbles into ape territory, the two species are faced with the dilemma of whether to conflict or collaborate.
Creating a world where Apes now don warpaint, speak English and utilise weaponry is by no means an easy task, but in our magical modern digital world, all of this becomes practically seamless. So seamless in fact that the CGI becomes but an afterthought. Every inch of these computer animated simians is flawless: facial expressions, body movement down to subtle and emotive eye nuances bring the audience into the universe without a hitch. A lot of this success is down to the expert motion capture skills of King Kong/Gollum actor Andy Serkis as the iconic Ceaser.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes doesn’t fall into the pitfalls of the classic summer-blockbuster-hit either, with plot, dialogue and acting quality resting high above the norm and makes for a more than welcome addition to a newly rejuvenated franchise. Burton-esque this is not!
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes | Directed by Matt Reeves (USA 2014) with Gary Oldman, Kerri Russell and Andy Serkis. Starts August 7