Friday, 1 August 2014

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes - REVIEW *****

Persuaded to go and see this film by a male, with reluctance I went - with an open mind, thinking that there would be some special effects I could pay appreciative comments to, and that would be about it.

However, I was taken pleasantly by surprise, into a world of deep emotional battles over the nature of man versus the integrity of the animal kingdom. Given, that this is an epic American classic Sci-fi film, the last thing I expected to see were powerful emotive scenes from fictional talking apes that would have me in tears one minute, laughing hysterically the next, and on the edge of my seat for the duration of the screening.

The plot is focused on a battle of territory and a fight for survival between the humans living in San Francisco, and the apes living in the upper region of the Muir Woods just outside the city.  The humans need to fix a hydroelectric damn situated around the location of the Ape’s home, so that they can provide a power source once again to their town. The apes obviously struggle with this, as they want to  protect their families and remain in their long-standing home that they have fought so hard to keep in the past.

Cascaded with a series of life-threatening misunderstandings of one another, and of the communication between parties, the film takes unexpected twists and turns that will have you gasping for breath and wondering what will happen next. I found myself contemplating over and over in my mind, how such ignorance and disaster can result from a fear of the other, of the unknown.

One of the most touching aspects of the film, is the portrayal of the apes, by human actors, using performance capture. In the words of Andy Serkis the film portrays “Apes that are infused with the heart and soul of an actor’s performance”. Serkis brings a spirit and a simplicity to his heroic character Caesar, that doesn’t let technology take away from the acting side of things but instead makes the apes all the more real and fascinating to watch.  

It was interesting to look up some of the actors that played the parts of the apes such as the great leader Caesar (Andy Serkis) and the angry rebellious Koba, (Toby Kebbell) who ends up turning against his own.  The anger of Koba, particularly struck me in the film, and I felt that the realness of that anger was so strong. The film directors worked hard to find actors that had great depth. Toby Kebbell (Koba) has been praised for many of his emotive performances in his acting roles, including his portrayal of a boy with learning difficulties in the film ‘Dead Man’s Shoes’ directed by Shane Meadows 2004.

Sometimes in Sci-fi films I think they tend to neglect the need for good acting, but in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes this certainly was not the case. Neither did the directors neglect the special effects side of things as they worked with the creators of Avatar and Lord of the Rings to achieve the ultimate standard that went above and beyond all previous special effects films. They took the highest and most intense action scenes to the real locations on filming, and did real live motion captures. This film truly has something for everyone and I would genuinely give it five stars, as a must watch this summer.

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