The Matt Reeves directed sequel to the prequel of one of the most famous sci-fi movie franchises of all time sits firmly in its place on the film time-line.
In 2011 the Rupert Wyatt directed Rise of the Planet of the Apes was released, and before viewing the film I was rather sceptical as to how a prequel could live up to the 1968 Charlton Heston original. As it turned out, the film was really enjoyable and actually did a great job at showing how the downfall of humanity and the rise of the apes was our fault entirely. So it was obvious that a sequel to this film would raise some eyebrows. But all the fears of the 8th film in franchise ruining it will have been put to rest, as it followed on the story so well and mankind still came out as the ones to blame. Which to me is the whole underlining plot behind the films.
It has been 10 years since the events in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and Gen-Sys’ ALZ-113 virus has killed off the vast majority of the human race. With only a few pockets of survivors remaining alive. Lead ape Ceaser and his clan of intelligent apes – including the apes that helped Ceaser escape in the previous film: Maurice and Rocket – are where we left them last time, in the wooded areas outside of San Francisco. They have evolved, are learning to make a life for themselves and most can now talk. The apes think the humans to be extinct, and the humans don’t even know the apes exist, so you can imagine their surprise when the humans run into them whilst trying to turn a dam on for power.
Although turned away at first, Malcolm and his family return to plead with Ceaser to let them do their work, due to their colony being low on power and food. Although he agrees to let them, tensions are high as the decision does not sit well with some of the apes. With unpredictable characters on both species, Dreyfus for the humans and Koba for the apes, it seems just a matter of time before the war for planet Earth will begin.
Gary Oldman gives an impressive performance once again as the kill-anything-to-stay-alive Dreyfus, although his part is small compared to some of the other characters. The fact that he is not actually on-screen as much as Malcolm and his family or even the apes for that matter, but still gives a portrayal that sticks in your mind shows just how great of an actor he is. Personal favourite Jason Clarke (Malcolm) leads the human side of the scuffle as he attempts to show Ceaser that the two species can live in harmony. He forces the audience to sympathise with the humans once again; even if this is all their fault. Clarke’s talents have been evident in many films over recent years – Zero Dark Thirty/Public Enemies/Lawless – and every performance has been stellar. But of course the person who really steals the show in Andy Serkis as the apes alpha-male Ceaser. His compassion for the humans mixed in with his strength and attitude to do anything for his family and ape-kind make him the perfect character. You can sympathise with him, even when he’s at his most angry and aggressive. Most of Ceaser’s apes have grown up either being gawked at or tested on by humans so therefore have learnt to hate them. Ceaser however grew up with a loving family, and because of that saw the kindness that humans are capable of. His character shows this, as although apes are the superior species to him he still cares for the humans. This caring nature keeps the audience on his side even when he is angry, because he never lashes out or loses control unless it is needed. All he wants is for there to be peace.
As was said before, one of the main reasons Rise of the Planet of the Apes was so good was because of how it concluded. The apes didn’t want any violence, just to be left in peace, and due to humanity’s own creation of the MLZ-113 virus they ended up killing themselves off. That was the reason it was so good, because the apes weren’t violent, mankind ended from what will probably happen in reality, their own doing. So naturally when watching the trailer for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes it was a rather worrying thought that it was going to be ruined by having the apes fight the remaining humans for no reason whatsoever, except for power. Thankfully, this was not the case, and for reasons which will not be revealed because of spoilers, the only time the apes fight is when they have to.
This is a film which, as the title suggests, is trying to show how the apes have evolved since the first one, and how they will become the dominant species on planet Earth. This made the film so much different from what it seemed it was going to be about, we are treated to what the apes have created for themselves and how much they have built and advanced since the fall of the humans. They also show, in some respects, how they are the smarter species; violence, power and electricity are not an issue for them, all they want is peace.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes has kept the franchise alive, and all round is a mournful film. In the sense that we see the humans stupidity and the apes loss.