This film is absolutely fantastic on every level, starting with Andy Serkis as Caesar, the soulful, emotional, kind and fair ape that we met in 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes' which starred, James Franco.
Right off the bat, I have to say that Serkis is amazing. He gives such a beautiful, nuanced performance that we, as an audience, are able to feel everything that Caesar feels and thinks. The film, shot in 3D, is brilliantly directed by Matt Reeves ('Cloverfield') from Mark Bomback, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver's script.
'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes' takes place a decade after most of the human race has been wiped out by the man-made Simian virus. Caesar - who now has a wife, Cornelia (Judy Greer) a teenage son, a new born baby and a pretty large vocabulary - is the well respected leader of all the large group of apes that reside in Muir Woods, outside of San Francisco.
The apes, who have now evolved to the point where they are using words and sign language to communicate, haven't seen humans for years, and wonder if they are now extinct.
But they don't wonder for very long.
Into their peaceful home comes Malcolm (Jason Clarke), a former architect who lost his wife to the virus, his teenage son Alexander (Kodi Smit-McPhee), Ellie (Keri Russell) a former CDC nurse; along with a couple of gun-toting companions. Apparently they are among a colony of humans that survived the pandemic and are now living nearby in the ruins of San Francisco.
Malcom and his crew are looking for a new source of energy, since the colony's power is running out. The good news is they found it. The bad news is it's in the ape's backyard.
Koba (Toby Kebbell), the ape who spent years in captivity and endured horrendous experiments by various scientists, hates humans with a vengeance and wants to kill the intruders.
Caesar on the other hand is conflicted about humanity. He longs to live in harmony with them, but at the same time, he's not sure he can fully trust them. Of course, his big heart wins out, and he lets the humans stay the night - but it doesn't take long before all hell breaks loose and the humans are forced to run for their lives.
Back in San Fran, which is no longer the 'city of love,' we meet the colony's leader - Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) a former law enforcement dude - who along with many of the others, blame the apes for the virus. Guess they conveniently forgot about the mad scientists, responsible for the pandemic, in the first place.
So the questions become: Can apes and humans co-exist peacefully? Can they put aside their mistrust and blame? Or will each species do their best to wipe each other out?
Well, we all know the answer to those questions.
The film is beautifully shot thanks to cinematographer, Michael Seresin and the performances, including that of Maurice, the lovable Orangutan and Rocket (Terry Notary) Caesar's closest allies, are all amazing.
'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes' opens in theatres Friday July 11, 2014. Do not miss it.
After all, I don't give just any film 5 bagels out of 5.
Check out the Two Jews on Film video for more of my thoughts.
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