Billy's Film Reviews.

A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – 2014


2014 has been quite a remarkable year for films thus far, primarily given the tally of sequels that achieve the impossible – outdo their predecessors. The sequel to the surprisingly impressive “Ape” reboot, directed by Matt Reeves has not only added to the tally of marvellous sequels of 2014, it has topped the list by a country mile. “Dawn of The Planet of the Apes” is a film that epitomises what a sequel should achieve and is one of the best sequels in recent memory. Receiving universal praise from critics the world over, there were high expectations leading into the screening of this ape-epic; having recently returned home, one thing must be said regarding this film – the critics’ praise of “Dawn of The Planet of the Apes” comes across as a severe understatement.

Taking place some 10 years after the original “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” story transpired, the vast ape populace, lead by the illustrious and god-like Caesar (Andy Serkis)“Dawn of The Planet of the Apes”is set in a broken and disaster-stricken world. The apes have evolved significantly during this time, and with no human contact for some 2 years, they have established a world of their own. Efficient, peaceful and prosperous, Caesar has injected hope, happiness and intelligence into his fellow apes, whilst becoming a father along the way. It is the events that follow the first sign of human contact that lead to conflicting and drastically engulfing moral dilemmas on both party’s behalf.


With an incredible sense of tension, limbo and mistrust, “Dawn of The Planet of the Apes” is one of the most emotionally constricting and captivating films in recent years. The constant and crescendo-esque fluctuation of emotion, mood and atmosphere is simply astonishingly well worked; just when something appears pleasant, something arises to disrupt it. The focus is primarily on Caesar and his relationships between both apes and humans; this in itself is such an emotional roller coaster, but the narrative is packed to the rafters with soul, passion and feeling, it is at most times overwhelming.

Matt Reeves himself states he wanted “to take that character who is sort of  a revolutionary and watch him become a leader”; that exploration of Caesar’s transition and growth is one of the film’s most powerful elements and is achieved faultlessly through Reeve’s astounding directing. Not taking anything away from Rupert Wyatt, director of the original “Apes” reboot, the transfer in directors was one of the best decisions for the franchise. Bringing across past favourites such as Kodi Smit-McPhee and Keri Russell, the cast is so well connected and comfortable with one another. Furthermore, performances from Gary Oldman and Jason Clarke are brilliant to say the least.


The announcement of a third “Apes” instalment was somewhat of an inevitability but the fact that Reeves is yet again on board is some tantalisingly mouthwatering news. The places that Reeves takes this story are remarkably affecting in every emotional way possible. From a personal point – I laughed, I cried (and was on the verge of tears 3 times before that), I was scared, short of breath and overall, I was 4,000% invested in this modern masterpiece from the first shot. Matt Reeves and “Dawn of The Planet of the Apes” have ticked every box there is to tick when focusing on a modern, dark and enthralling sequel; this is a triumph!

A review of this film would not be complete without mention of the jaw dropping visual effects. These visuals are so advanced, it’s hard to compare them with anything else ever seen in cinema. From a visual point of view that completely excludes narrative, character and emotion, “Dawn of The Planet of the Apes” would have to be one of the best films ever made. The CGI and motion capture work done predominately by Andy Serkis is lightyears ahead of anything similar to it’s kind.

maxresdefaultFrom the fur, to the paint, to the blood, to the eyes, to the perfect encapsulation of the animalistic nature of these beasts; it is near-impossible to remember that these are in fact human beings in lycra suits. The overall realisation of these apes make Gollum look like something made on Moviemaker. “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” was seen as a technological landmark in modern cinema with the stunning realism it achieved, but it’s sequel takes the visual experience to a whole new level.

Not only is the film a spectacle through visual effects, the score is equally as impressive. Michael Giacchino’ s composition is outstanding and superb in setting tone, generating mood and amplifying areas of action, tension and drama throughout the film. As previously mentioned, the film is such a mixed bag of emotions, the music accompanies the fluctuation in mesmerising fashion. From the harrowing horns to the glorious glockenspiels, the music is phenomenal and should be recognised as one the best scores of the year.


Speaking of recognition, Andy Serkis. The academy must open their eyes and recognise the pioneering work that this man has contributed to the world of cinema over the past decade. His motion capture work is so impressive, he deserves multiple OSCAR awards for appetisers alone. I will be keeping an eye out during the award season this year for some thoroughly deserved Serkis acknowledgement and promise to take serious action if noting occurs. Caesar is such an incredible character that has so much depth; nobody could embody the ape with his mannerisms, characteristics and expressions in the way Serkis does. If the academy were intelligent, a ‘Best Actor’ nomination would already be reserved for Serkis.

By far the best sequel of the year, “Dawn of The Planet of the Apes” was such an experience, it requires 3 things. The first is that you watch “Rise”, the second is that you see the film itself and the third is that you witness it in all it’s glory at the cinema. Watching this on a computer or a dvd will not do it justice. This is currently the most popular film on iMDB and boy does it deserve to be! “Dawn of The Planet of the Apes” was one of the best films of the year and it has a perfect score written all over it, but sadly, there is an unknown variable that is limiting it to the next best thing. This is a 4.5/5 film, but it is one of the strongest 4.5’s ever given.

Please. See. This. Film. At. The. Cinema. You won’t be disappointed.



7 comments on “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – 2014

  1. Noemie
    July 24, 2014

    I gave a 3.5…and most of the grade goes to the visual effects which are incredible, I do agree.
    Pretty well played but I’ve seen Gary Oldman way better than that and I was not impressed by Keri Russell (who I love in The Americans).

    I really liked the first one. Easy story but with something to add (animal testing, etc).

    I really didn’t get in the story of this new one…so easy that you already know what will happen next at least 30min ahead…I cry a loooot when I watch movies (ask your brother..) but this movie did not give me much emotions…I was definitely disappointed.

    Not a terrible movie but not a great one eather.

    • wmsteele
      July 24, 2014

      Tom told me about your opinion, it’s a shame that you didn’t enjoy it as much as I did.
      I leant over to Alise when we were watching at and I whispered that something (won’t spoil it) would happen – pretty sure you know what in talking about. Sure enough it did, but when it did, it still had such a powerful effect!
      I was sooooo impressed with this.

      What did you give the first one ?

  2. noemie
    July 24, 2014

    I’m not sure what you’re talking about haha.

    I gave a 4 to the first one. Very good but not perfect (easy story, people looking exactly the same way all along the movie while almost 10 years passed, etc)

    • wmsteele
      July 24, 2014

      I don’t want to spoil it just to be safe…

      The while involving an ape coming back haha! Saw that from a mile away haha

  3. noemie
    July 24, 2014

    Oh yeah! Of course it did…and that’s exactly what I call a “fail” in a movie…

    • wmsteele
      July 24, 2014

      Haha! Well I guess you could look at it like that, but then again, I thought it was handled so so so well!
      It could have been awfully done, but the way that the story continued to jump from one extreme to another in terms of mood (happy to terrible), it was achieved really well

  4. noemie
    July 24, 2014

    Yeah…maybe. haha. I don’t know. It just didn’t work for me 🙂

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