We’ve come a long way from the rubber masks of yore with “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” directed by Matt Reeves with meaningful music by Michael Giachiccino. As the apes in the movie are computer generated based on the movements of the actors, it’s easy to forget that actual humans are behind each ape. If there is a certain amount of anthropomorphic in the apes movement it suggests a closer relationship between the species that might offer a hint of something.
Among the humans are Jason Clarke as Malcolm, a survivor; Gary Oldman as Dreyfus, leader of the humans who survived the Earth-wide, deadly virus; Keri Russell, Malcom’s second wife; and Kodi Smit-McPhee as Malcom’s son.
But the star of this fine film is Andy Serkis as Caesar, an ordinary chimpanzee and leader of the apes. Through all the computer magic he still comes across as an admirable chimp. He has a regal bearing.
Film starts out with a quick backstory look at the last “Rise of Apes” movie and then moves on with Malcolm leading a group of humans into Marin Country where there is a hydroelectric dam that the humans in San Francisco need power from badly. That’s ape territory.
The encounter of the two species isn’t go off well but Caesar manages to make peace between the two. Back in San Francisco Dreyfus (a play on the French army officer who was wrongly convicted?) is stirring up the humans and when his policy of extermination of the apes is questioned replies, “Why not? They’re only animals.”
Which is pretty much what the movie is out to disprove and does so convincingly. (A lesson about today’s battle with immigrants on our southern borders?).
Lots of computer generated images here, not just the apes but the scenery, including the tower that is the final battle scene between Caesar and the human hating Koba (Toby Kebell), onetime victim of human experiments.
A marvel of the movie is how quickly one accepts the chimps and their friend, an orangutan Maurice (Karin Konoval).
Keri Russell does a quiet job as the helpful nurse, and Clarke is a strong leader and peacemaker. But of course, it’s Serkis as Caesar who carries the movie along.
The animation of the apes is marvelous, so much so that one quickly accepts the apes as real chimps.
All told, a very well example of film making in these computer-activated days. The technological mastery is there but one quickly accepts the apes and all the rest of computer work as natural.
No politics, just some gentle nudges toward accommodation and living in peace.
• Jason Clarke as Malcolm, a survivor of the ALZ-113 virus who, along with a small group of other survivors, forms a strong bond with the apes.
• Gary Oldman as Dreyfus, the leader of the surviving humans.
• Keri Russell as Ellie, a former nurse with the CDC and survivor of the virus. She is Malcolm’s second wife, Alexander’s step-mother and knows the virus wasn’t caused by the apes.
• Kodi Smit-McPhee as Alexander, Malcolm’s teenage son.
• Jocko Sims as Werner, an ally of Dreyfus.
• Kirk Acevedo as Carver, a member of Malcolm’s group. He has an attitude problem and a strong hatred for apes.
• Enrique Murciano as Kempt, a member of Malcolm’s group.
• Kevin Rankin as McVeigh
• Keir O’Donnell as Finney
Additionally, James Franco, who played Dr. Will Rodman in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, is seen in a “posthumous cameo via video”.
• Andy Serkis as Caesar, a common chimpanzee who is the leader of the apes, king of the ape colony, husband of Cornelia, and father of Blue Eyes and an infant son.
• Judy Greer as Cornelia, Caesar’s wife, mother of Blue Eyes and a newborn son, and honorary aunt of Ash.
• Toby Kebbell as Koba, Caesar’s ruthless bonobo adviser who believes his leader is too affectionate towards humans. He is the primary antagonist of the film, though his retaliation against humanity displayed in Rise of the Planet of the Apes was seen as heroic.
• Terry Notary as Rocket, a common chimpanzee who is Caesar’s second-in-command and one of his most trusted friends. Because of this, he is Caesar’s children’s honorary uncle.
• Karin Konoval as Maurice, Caesar’s Bornean orangutan third-in-command and member of the ape council who gets captured and held hostage by Koba.
• Nick Thurston as Blue Eyes, Caesar and Cornelia’s teenage son, honorary nephew of Rocket, and honorary cousin and best friend of Ash.
• Doc Shaw as Ash, Rocket’s teenage son, Caesar and Cornelia’s honorary nephew, and Blue Eyes’ best friend and honorary cousin.
by Rick Jaffa
Premise suggested by Planet of the Apes
by Pierre Boulle
131 minutes, rated PG-13
The Associated Press Contributed to this report.