When a Planet of the Apes prequel/reboot was first mooted, who would have expected anything other than a middling effort? Yet Rise of the Planet of the Apes proved more than a cash grab, and now Dawn bucks the typical downward trend of sequels to further defy expectations, soaring above its predecessor and staking a claim to be one of the best big budget films of the year.
It’s a result that’s all the more remarkable with director Matt Reeves jettisoning the original story for Dawn mere weeks before shooting. In choosing to explore the standalone ape society of the series’ near future as it first comes into contact with human survivors, Reeves places his cast of digitally created primates front and centre in a way that’s truly remarkable to watch. Audaciously opening with nearly twenty minutes of dialogue-free ape interaction, Dawn leaves no doubt that these are fully-realised characters, and the true stars of the film, something Rise struggled with.
Maintaining a tight focus throughout, never leaving a couple of relatively small slices of San Francisco real estate, Reeves also displays a great knack for both the subtleties and awe-inspiring moments of CGI-heavy direction. Among the many visual highlights to wow you include ape and camera astride a rotating tank turret mid-battle; the inevitable massed combat between man and ape; and an epic one-on-one scrap.
Then there’s what Dawn doesn’t do. Refreshingly, no city-wide destruction; no risk of the world’s end (ok, it already happened); and only one line about saving the human race. Who cares? After Dawn, the humans aren’t even that interesting any more.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes 3D movie times – and 2D times