Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)

Director: Matt Reeves
Writers:  Mark Bomback, Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver
Cast:       Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Kerri Russell

Ten years after a pandemic disease, apes who have survived it are drawn into a battle with a group of human survivors. Apes are in a position of strength and the politics in their camp leads to the inevitable war. 

This is that rare case of a sequel being much better than the first film. I guess you can pretty much consider Rise of the Planet of Apes (RatPoA) as the first one in the franchise because it is the one which starts off the story that leads up to the late 1960s film 'Planet of the Apes'. I haven't seen that one but I am aware that it had a twist ending with the humans in it, who landed on the planet in a space ship, finally realizing that it was indeed the Earth by spotting the fallen Statue of Liberty. It was a film which came out during America's Civil Rights Movement, drawing an interpretation of it having a metaphorical racial subtext to the story. One could wonder that, since most people who are going to watch the prequels already know to where it is going, whether they will be able to manage it to be interesting enough. I found the first half of RatPoA to be be quite average but that was required to set up the character Ceaser (Andy Serkis), future king of the apes. The second half of the film was great with a kick-ass final battle on the San-Francisco Golden Gate bridge. 

One would have assumed that Apes might have gone to war with the humans and that is how humans got wiped out from the planet. I don't remember whether there were any clues about the pandemic which was gonna wipe out most of the human race in RatPoA. It seems the characters played by James Franco and Frieda Pinto died due to the disease with one of them possibly being the patient zero. Film starts with Ceaser and his subjects living in the forest thinking that humans are all but gone from near their area. Kuba (nickname of Joseph Stalin) is the fiery first assistant ape to Ceaser and he is bit of a war monger when they encounter a group of humans who are in search of a dam to power up their colony in San-Francisco. Then it is like game theory in action with both groups having characters distrusting the motives of the other group waiting for a spark to start the war. It is initiated by Kuba who kind of do a coup. Ceaser and his human friend try to broker peace without success setting up the prospect for an all-out war between the humans and apes in the immediate future. It is another great performance from Andy Serkis but Gollum still remains as his best role. 

Matt Reeves replaced Rupert Wyatt for the sequel and he manages to make a film with tension throughout and having characters with depth. There is nothing novel about the story since you could replace the groups of apes and humans with the very common case of two countries who distrust each other and are on the brink of the war. The CGI is impressive and the motion capture for the apes were done in external sets unlike the prequel. Overall it is great one time watch but if you ask me whether I am looking forward to the next films in the franchise-it is a case of wait and watch. If the reviews are good like for this one I will watch but not expecting too much since there is not much scope for anything path-breaking story-wise.

Rating: 4/5