Review by A. Snow
The sequel to 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Dawn begins after a decade has passed since its predecessor. The audience is immediately thrown into the apes’ daily lives – hunting, gathering, learning – living peacefully within the Muir woods. Caesar, still in command, is also now a father of two sons: Blue Eyes, and a newborn. Koba stands as Caesar’s second in command and is also one of the film’s antagonists.
Matt Reeves, the film’s director, does a wonderful job weaving together the complex narrative, all the while giving the audience a range of beautiful visual sequences. I for one have missed films that intermix stylistic techniques within a narrative without losing sight of either. Reeves uses two long takes (a rarity in current films) and they are both astounding; one is more complex seeing as how it is a 360 degree long take that spins around three times during a single battle sequence. Like I said, I am in awe!
The film’s motion capture work is just mind-blowing. The level that this technology has progressed to is frightening. Usually the main complaint in regards to motion-capture and CGI animation is the lack of emotions when it comes to the eyes…well ladies and gentlemen Dawn’s Apes emoted to the point of bringing me to tears. We must give credit (and hope for an eventual Oscar Nomination) to the brilliant actors that portrayed the apes in the film. From Caesar to Maurice to Blue Eyes to Koba, they were all fantastic.
The film would be nothing without its story. I must commend the writers for continuing this re-telling in less of a sci-fi way, and with a more realistic and genuine approach. Compared to the first film, the humans were much more layered. Every character had a purpose and they each delivered. Running almost two hours and fifteen minutes, I personally loved every minute that passed. SPOILERS – The parallels between Caesar and Koba’s relationship to that of Julius Caesar and Brutus was one of my favorite aspects of the storyline. The moment where Caesar looked at Koba before the betrayal was perfection – SPOILERS
With beautiful mise-en-scene, cinematography, sound, and editing, I am so beyond satisfied with this film and cannot wait for the final act. I hope Dawn gets the nominations it deserves once the Oscars come around.