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This article was first published 9 years ago  » Movies » Review: Dawn of the Planets of the Apes is breathtaking

Review: Dawn of the Planets of the Apes is breathtaking

By Paloma Sharma
Last updated on: July 11, 2014 17:38 IST
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A scene from Dawn of the Planets of the ApesDawn of the Planet of the Apes rises above all its predecessors, says Paloma Sharma.

First, the simian flu spread.

Then the riots happened.

If the diseases didn't kill you, the violence will.

If not the violence, then the lack of basic amenities.

Set almost 10 years after the events of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the film sees humans and apes swap places -- where while humans fight extinction, the ape empire only grows.

Caesar (Andy Serkis), leader of the apes, rulesover  his subjects and their colony outside of the now fallen city of San Francisco with an iron fist.

Maintaining peace among the apes is quite an easy task given the strict hierarchy the residents of the colony follow but when a pair of young apes encounter a group of humans, who they thought had gone extinct, all hell breaks lose.

The humans wish to utilise a dam that lies in the apes' territory to restore electricity to whatever is left of San Francisco and Caesar allows them a limited amount of time to do this, attempting to keep the hard-won peace.

However, not everybody is happy with Caesar's decision. Koba (Toby Kebbell), Caesar's right-hand ape who retains gruesome scars from the years of lab experiments conducted on him, feels betrayed when his leader refuses to kill the humans.

The power struggle that ensues between them -- both between apes and humans, and within each group -- causes Caesar's long established rule of "Ape not kill ape" to be forgotten.

As far as Dawn of the Planet of the Apes goes, it is important to make one thing very clear -- it works, not because of the judiciously used special effects, not because of tightly written script but simply due to the genius of Andy Serkis.

While CGI and the writing are important and really well done, it is Serkis who takes the film to another level.

No stranger to motion-capture, having already played King Kong in the Jack Black-Andrien Brody starrer, Serkis is easily the Jane Goodall of cinematic simians and while the technology used to enhance his ape-ness is fascinating, Serkis could have donned a cheap toy-store monkey suit and still done an equally believable job.

Although a sequel to Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the franchise does not retain Rupert Wyatt as the director.

Instead, Matt Reeves takes on the position and one couldn't be more grateful for this change.

Reeves has got style. 

He never gives away more than he should, setting up a series of climaxes towards the end like a row of dominoes that comes crashing down when pushed by the a finger that could have been human just as easily as it could have been ape.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is best watched in 3D, and if you really want to be dazzled then I suggest going as far as Imax.

The best part about the film's special effects is that they exist to enhance the already solid foundations of the film and restrict themselves only to areas where they are needed.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes features some breathtaking production design by James Chinlund, who turns the city of San Francisco into a wasteland and still manages to retain its beauty.

Still, it is impossible not to think of I Am Legend when the film shifts from the forests to the urban underground.

Although the film fails to answer certain questions (such as, if the human colony was so close accessible, how come the apes never found it before?) and the background score could have been infinitely better, it transcends to a whole new level the moment it rises above being a mere part of a franchise and becomes an individual work of art.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is not, and never was, about a fictional future that seems scary and yet amusing to us at present.

It is about realising what we're doing today and what could be done to us tomorrow.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes unapologetically pits humans against apes; and you can't just be a mute spectator.

You will be forced to take sides.

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Paloma Sharma in Mumbai