Sunday, November 30, 2014

Video review: "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes"

Technically, I’m not sure if “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” is the sequel to the prequel to the “Apes” movies from the 1960 and ‘70s, or what. But I do know it was the most entertaining movie I saw this summer.

The follow-up to “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” is set 10 years down the road, when humans have mostly died off due to disease and intelligent apes are now the Earth’s prime species. Represented entirely through computer animation, the chimps, gorillas, baboons, orangutans, etc. squint and snarl, bicker and bond, and also speak English when the mood strikes them.

Caesar (Andy Serkis) is the leader who championed the uprising against the humans, and now suspects they’re extinct. But then Marcus (Jason Clarke) shows up on the doorstep to their forest village with a band of other people in tow. After some convincing, Caesar reluctantly agrees to help them turn the power back on at the nearby hydroelectric dam, but it soon becomes clear that the coming conflict is unavoidable – both between and within species.

The human characters are a bit blah, but the interactions between the apes are electric. Caesar has a deep bond of trust with his chief lieutenant, Koba (Toby Kebbell), but when the latter encounters humans, it triggers his memories of being medically experimented upon. Similarly, on the human side there are those who fear the apes and think it would be better if they were just wiped out.

With its mix of soulful reflection and engaging sci-fi, “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” was the best big-budget spectacle this past summer had to offer.

Video extras are quite extensive. There are deleted scenes, a production gallery of photos, feature-length commentary track by director Matt Reeves, and eight making-of featurettes.



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