The Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – Film Review

The growing colony of genetically enhanced apes is pitted against the human survivors of the virus which has more than decimated the earth’s population.

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Shouldn’t the ‘Rise’ have come after the ‘Dawn’? In my book events like the Sun rising, an idea, or any urge you may happen to have will have a dawn before they begin to rise. I just wanted to get that out of the way.

I was expecting an ‘Empire Strikes Back’ or ‘Back to the Future II’ sort of darkness from ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ and it delivered this to a point but, disappointingly, only to a point. The first half an hour is gripping and had me on the edge of my seat. But before I knew it I has slumped back, weighed down by a sudden rush of sentimentality – an emotion I did not expect too much of in this chapter.

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It is not necessary to have seen the first film in the Apes franchise to appreciate the events in this chapter as they fill you in with a now tried and trusted ‘news’ montage in the opening scene. You will, however, have to put up with subtitles in the first half of the film because the apes use a combination of sign language, grunts and the odd English word to communicate. Personally subtitles don’t bother me and the story does warrant the as the apes only begin to speak more when faced with the human survivors.

The look and feel of the film is excellent. The home of the ape colony and their embryonic evolution with regard to hunting and family values is treated with equal amounts of thrilling and touching respect. The human characters are as two dimensional as they were in the first episode but I feel this is a choice rather than a weakness as this, after all, is the story of the Apes. Without giving too much away the overgrown look of San Francisco reminds me of ‘I am Legend’ in the slick detail they provide.

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The battle scenes are tense and the rising politics in the ape colony are believable as the different apes have different motivations about how humans should be treated. The filmmakers have infused the apes politics with the hallmarks of the Roman Empire far beyond the main character’s name of Caesar.

But all this does not help that about an hour of the film is achingly slow and sentimental. It is as if they had an hour of plot and then split it in half and filled it with rice cakes. Whatever they have planned for the next instalment they should have dumped 50% of the sentimental parts here and taken the first half an hour of the next movie’s plot and used it in this one.

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While overall it disappointed me the final sequence leaves you wanting more and so it manages to entertain by the skin of its grubby fingernails. I will be in the cinema for the first day of the final part (whatever they decide to call it, “The Brunch of the Planet of the Apes” perhaps) to see how they conclude this reboot.

6/10

In cinemas now!

 

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