News

REVIEW: ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ is the best yet

REVIEW: ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ is the best yet

Photo: YouTube

Genre: Action, Drama, Sci-Fi | Run Time: 130 min | Rated: PG-13
Director: Matt Reeves | Starring: Gary Oldman, Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Keri Russell

By: George Wolf

You can officially forget Dr. Zaius. In fact, if you think Rupert Wyatt’s impressive Rise of the Planet of the Apes from 2011 was the best that particular series could possibly do, you can forget that, too. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is an evolution to a far superior breed of film artistically, visually and emotionally.

The devastating truths of prejudice, bias, fear and powerlust are the foundational planks of any great piece of political theater, dating back to Shakespeare (fittingly) and before. Director Matt Reeves (Let Me In, Cloverfield), along with his team of writers, respects this. It is respect for the content that elevated the previous installment so far above franchise efforts as well as audience expectations.

With that respect and those expectations now established, Reeves picks up Wyatt’s themes and expamds them with breathtaking expertise. The Simian Flu – the virus that gave Caesar (Andy Serkis) and other lab apes exceeding intelligence – proved catastrophic to the human population. Ten years after the outbreak and the “incident on the Golden Gate Bridge”, the apes are thriving in their own society in a forest beyond the city. Meanwhile, what’s left of the city’s human population struggles to survive.

Wisely, Reeves doesn’t pick sides, and in leaving judgment behind we’re able to see this thrilling Man V Ape escapade for its larger historical and human relevance.

These elements coursing beneath the surface of his film help to explain its profound impact, but it’s what’s layered on top that thrills.

In utterly stunning 3D, Reeves fills the expanse of his screen with fascinating and startling images, action sequences and set pieces at once familiar and unlike anything else unspooling this summer. Once again, you forget that half the drama before you erupts between CGI images and trained animals – the image is that true, the drama that compelling.

Dawn is as convincing on every front, even when it has no business succeeding. It is so loud, brutal, and committed to its premise that you cannot but surrender to the chaos. Equally successful as summer blockbuster and political allegory, the film is as well written in both arenas as any you will find.

Darker, more intense and deeply satisfying, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes takes a good thing and makes it better.

Verdict 4 Stars

Recent Headlines

in Local

Judge Makes Ruling in Drowning Death Civil Suit

sangamon_county_building_3

A judge has clarified what the family of a Springfield drowning victim will receive after a jury in February said the city acted recklessly when the teen died in 2007.

in Local

Study: Illinois High in Political Corruption

jail

Illinois remains No. 3 in the nation when it comes to political corruption.

in Local

Budget “Circus” Continues Inside Capitol

money

The Illinois Senate made a number of moves on a state budget.

in Local

Sugary Drink Tax Still in Play, Says Advocate

soda_pop

A sugary drink tax is still in the mix at the Capitol.

in Local

New Proposal to Take ALPLM Away from Historic Preservation Agency

FILE - In this Feb. 10, 2012 file photo, school students enter the "White House" as a life-size Abraham Lincoln replica stands outside, while touring the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Ill. The chairman of the foundation behind the Library and Museum says fundraising is drying up because of tensions between library directors and the state agency that oversees it.

Lawmakers will proceed with making the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum its own entity.