I am blown away by Dawn of the Planet of the Apes - An Evening with Andy Serkis Part 1 - DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES FILM REVIEW


Posted by Craig Grobler on Google+ On Friday, November 21, 2014

Dawn of The Planet of The Apes ReviewAcouple of weeks ago I was extremely privileged to go along to a BAFTA screening of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes AND chat with Mr. Andy Serkis conducted by Empire's Dan Jolin.


Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Ten years after a pandemic disease, apes who have survived it are drawn into battle with a group of human survivors.

Director:
Matt Reeves


Writers:

Mark Bomback, Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Pierre Boulle

Stars:
Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Andy Serkis


UK Release:
On Blu-ray, DVD on 24th November 2014

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I say extremely privileged as the evening turned out to be one of my most memorable in a while. The event was held at the Ham Yard Hotel, this was my first visit to the Ham Yard and WOW! What a hotel. Belying its very central London location The Ham Yard makes incredible use of its enormous double volume space to create an experience - not just another London boutique hotel. Any future hotels being developed in London Central would do well to take a leaf out of the Ham Yard's concept book. Their screening room doing justice to both the crisp, beautiful cinematography as well as the rumbling sound and Michael Giacchino's score which gives the whole film a backbone on which to stand.

This was my first viewing of the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and I had been careful to stay away from anything that might be considered a spoiler as it was I had been looking forward to seeing it for ages, since Rupert Wyatt's absolutely marvellous Rise of the Planet of the Apes. I loved Rise of the Planet of the Apes it hit me right where it should and thankfully many others felt the same way as it won over the masses looking for blockbuster style fare, those looking for a film with substance and even the doubters wary of a another remake of Pierre Boulle's cautionary tale of a future society gone wrong.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Poster
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Poster (ZOOM)

I am an absolute fan of Franklin J. Schaffner's original Planet of the Apes that along with Omega Man and Soylent Green are the triumvirate of greatest Sci-Fi films ever made. Not only highly entertaining but thought provoking as they explore the human condition and not afraid to throw up challenging questions whilst underdog Charlton Heston kicks ass. I was a little disappointed when Rise of the Planet of the Apes director Rupert Wyatt bowed out of the sequel and was was concerned that Matt Reeves might take the franchise in a different direction, a place somewhere less than Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

Dawn of The Planet of THe Apes Ape & Man Face Off
Dawn of The Planet of The Apes Ape & Man Face Off (ZOOM)
Needless to say my concerns were unfounded and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes surpassed any expectations I had. It is one of those rare films where I immediately fall in love with it as it rolls out, and unconsciously decide that no matter what happens later on - up until that point this will be one of the best films I have ever seen. I was resolutely blown away. In no small part due to the incredible performances of the entire motion capture team bringing the Apes to life, so much so that the film is all about the Apes and the humans take a back seat as the foils to move the story along.

Video: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes | Official Trailer #3 HD | 2014

What a film! The opening third of the film is beautiful and an utterly marvellous to behold I was swept away as we fast forward a decade after events in Rise of the Planet of the Apes and see the world the Apes have built for themselves, how their society has progressed as well as the dynamics of the group. Working as teams to meet their shared objectives but with their individual personalities coming through. In contrast things are not going as well for Humans who have been ravaged to near the point of extinction by the man made simian virus.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Andy Serkis is Caesar
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Andy Serkis is Caesar (ZOOM)
It's a joy to see the Apes master their new environment especially Caesar who tries to hold it all together in a way that is more human than human. The scenes with the group dynamics of the Apes shine through are wholly engrossing and the chemistry of the Ape families is breathtakingly portrayed, even more so as the value that the newborn Apes represent as a new hope for the species becomes apparent (not as eloquently echoed with the humans). A lot of this comes down to Mr. Andy Serkis' ability to bring Caesar to life in a way that makes me question the human soul. I should also mention Toby Kebbell's outstanding performance as Koba as I only just realised who played him.

Video: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes | 'Hanging Out' | Clip HD

Every now and then a debate kicks up about whether mo-cap performers particularly Serkis should be recognised in their own category of awards. I have always been on the fence about this too be honest I have always thought that motion capture was kind of a subsection of the effects department and couldn't they all just work together? But subsequently my thinking has shifted to maybe this needs some serious consideration and no film makes the case for Motion Capture Performers as strongly as Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

I would have been happy to watch a whole film about the motion capture Apes and their politics, with some cameo narration by David Attenborough thrown in but I suspect that approach may scupper plans for box office greatness. So the relative peace of the Ape society is interrupted by the arrival of human interlopers who have their own agenda. And as with the real world the humans are just as divided as the Apes with some representing the best of us and others unable to let go of past fears or overcome with a new fear of the unknown.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Malcolm (Jason Clarke) & Caesar (Andy Serkis)
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Malcolm (Jason Clarke) & Caesar (Andy Serkis) go head to head (ZOOM)
Which of course builds to a confrontation of note. I'm not going to lie I could do without the whole Ape vs. Man skirmish side of things as in both the Ape films so far the story and depth of atmosphere created is strong enough that it really isn't necessary and I don't believe it lives up to the sparkling intelligence of the rest of the tale – but there you have it art intimating life and we have an insurmountable obstacle that can only be resolved with violence – except of course these are Apes and by virtue of their nature - animals. They have that excuse at least.

Video: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes | 'Apes Don't Want War' | Clip HD

I absolutely loved the first two thirds of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the finale although suitably built up doesn't quite live up to the intelligence that the rest of the film is imbued with but as with the format of all trilogies it stays true to form.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Caesar (Andy Serkis) & son Blue Eyes (Nick Thurston)
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Caesar (Andy Serkis) & son Blue Eyes (Nick Thurston) (ZOOM)
For me the thing that elevates both Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes above the usual fare is the intelligence behind it. Of course at its core it is about war between two faction, a bunch of computer generated apes fighting humans but it has always been about so more than just that. It is an exploration of the human condition and holds as much significance as a disillusioned knight playing chess with Death on a beach representing a debate upon the survival of the human species.

Whilst my head was buzzing from the celluloid high that I haven't had in awhile from a film. Empire's Don Jolin popped onto the stage for a chat with Mr Andy Serkis. Head Part 2 for the QA Session.


Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is out on Blu-ray, DVD on 24th November

Get ready for worlds to collide like never before! Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment takes you to the center of the battle between apes and humans with DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES on 3D Blu-rayTM, Blu-rayTM and DVD from 24th became the highest grossing installment of the franchise, netting £31.9 million at the UK box office most critically acclaimed blockbuster of the summer.

Andy Serkis, Gary Oldman, Jason Clarke, and Keri Russell star in this thrilling next chapter of The Planet of the Apes. It is 2026 and humanity has been pushed to near extinction by a deadly virus. When a group of survivors desperate to find a new source of power travel into the woods near San Francisco, they discover a highly evolved community of intelligent apes led by Caesar (Andy Serkis). The two species form a fragile peace but dissention grows and the groups find themselves hurtling toward all-out war. Fans and critics flocked to the film, with The Hollywood Reporter raving that “In the annals of sequels, Dawn is to Rise of the Planet of the Apes what The Empire Strikes Back was to Star Wars—it's that much better.“

With approximately two hours of special features the epic battle for survival continues on Blu-ray making DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES a perfect Christmas gift for any fan of intelligent action films.

Jam-packed with deleted scenes and behind-the-scenes featurettes including intimate interviews with Andy Serkis on how he masterfully created Caesar and inside looks at how the filmmakers developed the relationship between man and apes. In addition, explore how the stunning apes and their world were brought to life with groundbreaking special effects.

Eager fans can experience DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES anytime, anywhere on Digital HD and will be available at digital stores including iTunes, Google Play, Xbox Video, PlayStation Network, Amazon Instant Video and Sky Buy & Keep.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Stats and Facts
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Stats and Facts (ZOOM)

The Establishing Shot: I AM BLOWN AWAY BY DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES - AN EVENING WITH ANDY SERKIS PART 1 - DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES FILM REVIEW

With a rebel yell!
Craig is a retired superhero, an obsessive hobbyist, comics fan, gadget lover & flâneur who knows an unhealthy amount about Ian Fleming's James Bond. When not watching or making films he takes pictures, eats, drinks, dives, tries to connect to nature whilst mentally storyboarding the greatest film ever made. 

He also  & sometimes utilises owl-themed gadgets to fight crime.  A list of his 133 favourite films can be found hereIf you would still like to contact Craig please use any of the buttons below: 


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