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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes


Stars: Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Toby Kebbell, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Kirk Acevedo, Jon Eyez, Enrique Murciano, Terry Notary, Judy Greer, Nick Thurston, Karin Konoval, Keir O'Donnell, Kevin Rankin

Director: Matt Reeves

I find it amusingly ironic that, at a time when so many disposable, forgettable and just plain terrible movies celebrate their ego-seeking stars’ names above the title that the names of the stars who make this this magnificent sequel to the successful 2011 reboot of a cinematic series fly high are not mentioned.


Because their extraordinary work in bringing the simian stars to hairy, scary life is through the magic of motion capture. Presumably Hollywood sees no value in celebrating unique performances that (voices apart) create utterly credible apes, led by Andy Serkis, magnificent as Caesar, the prime primate of genetically evolved apes who come up against the small group of humans who have survived the devastating virus they devised and unleashed a decade earlier.

I was amused to see that In the well-created opening montage that illustrates the back story, the ever-shy media addict Barack Obama seizes yet another chance to hog the limelight.

Caesar, his tribe and his human-hating rival Koba (fur-covered Toby Kebbell) are living in a forest near San Francisco when their territory is invaded by humans seeking a dam whose long unused hydroelectric plant will provide them with the necessary power they need to contact other survivors of the virus via radio. Peace breaks out for a while but, inevitably, simians and human clash, the apes go ape and, guns at the ready, attack their hairless enemies in San Francisco…

The hairless ones are well-enough played by, notably, Gary Oldman along with Jason Clarke and Keri Russell but the honours triumphantly belong to Serkis (adding Caesar to his unique work as Gollum and King Kong) and the special effects team who create apes are as realistic as human actors and, indeed, a great deal better than quite a few of cinema’s hallowed hams.

And praise, too is due to director Matt Reeves who never strikes a soggy scene and tells his gripping story as perfectly as it could be told.

Alan Frank

USA 2014. UK Distributor: 20th Century Fox (Fox Searchlight). Colour by deluxe.
130 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 20 Jul 2014