In case you haven’t heard, “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” is hitting theaters this weekend. The continuing story of Caesar the chimp pushes the action forward ten years, and we see what becomes of civilization after the outbreak of Simian Flu, hinted at the end of “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.”
Simply put, “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” is an incredible film — not just by the standards of summer blockbusters — and it needs to be seen.
If you’re still on the fence about checking out one of this summer’s best movies, here is what you need to know about “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.”
1. It Has The Summer’s Most Fascinating Character
Just as the scope expands wildly from “Rise” to “Dawn,” we get a much more complex look at who Caesar is and the kind of responsibilities that come with enhanced intelligence and society. Once again, Andy Serkis delivers a layered performance that is never obvious or on the nose. Caesar is a conflicted character, the most interesting of any summer blockbuster, regardless of species.
2. It Makes A Great Double Feature With “Godzilla”
You might be thinking “Well, yeah. They’re both remakes of monster movies from the ’60s,” but that’s not what I’m talking about. It’s not even the apparent aggression towards the city of San Francisco. The two summer movies play together so well because of the secondary roles that the human characters take on. “Godzilla” is about Godzilla. “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” is about Caesar and his family. Do we really care about Aaron Taylor-Johnson or Jason Clark? Nope, but that doesn’t ruin the movie.
3. The Scene Stealer Is Never On The Screen
As great as Serkis is as Caesar, a lot of credit is due to one of the new motion capture recruits, Toby Kebbell. The future Doctor Doom of the “Fantastic Four” reboot plays the scarred Koba, Caesar’s closest ally, but an ape that doesn’t see humans with the same level of sympathy. He is the film’s only true villain, and the conflict between him and Caesar is the beating heart of “Dawn.”
4. It Gets A Little Shakespearean
The drama of “Dawn” is so enveloping that it’s rare that you step back and realize you’re watching apes. Every conflict and story element comes about so naturally that it’s easy to miss some of the classic tropes that the struggle between Caesar and Koba hits on. Even though these characters are apes living in a post-apocalyptic San Francisco, there is a big Shakespearean influence throughout the apes-centric portion of the movie.
5. Its Special Effects Will Trick Your Brain
The apes effects from WETA have advanced to the point where there are moments when I questioned whether I was looking at a CGI character.
6. It Features The Most Exciting Shot Of The Year, So Far
There are so many beautifully composed shots in “Dawn” that make you feel lucky that someone as talent as Matt Reeves got the sequel job. He is by no means phoning this in. There are dozens of frames that are destined for future tweets from @OnePerfectShot. There’s one in particular, a stationary camera on top of a moving tank, that will blow you away.
7. It Deserves Best Picture Consideration
Since the Academy upped the number of potential Best Picture nominations, there’s been an ongoing debate about which summer tentpoles deserve a place among the honored. I’m not saying that “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” deserves a nomination, but now that we’ve seen what the first half of 2014 has to offer, it certainly should be a part of the conversation.
8. It’s That Good
I’m not joking. On Friday, there’s a movie opening about apes that talk and ride horses and shoot assault rifles, and it could realistically get nominated for Best Picture. We are very lucky.
“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” opens in theaters on July 11.