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DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES 3D

SYNOPSIS:
Survivors of the simian plague trigger an all-out war between humanity and Caesar's (Andy Serkis) growing forces.

Review by Louise Keller:
It's the ape in the man and the man in the ape that's at the heart of this dazzling sequel spectacular, whose sheer scale and extraordinary effects match the voracity of the film's essence. Understandably the visual effects credits are as long as your two arms put together, and screenwriters Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver (who penned the 2011 Rise of the Planet of the Apes) have concocted a potent screenplay that pits man against beast - physically, emotionally and intellectually. Cloverfield director Matt Reeves never takes his eye off the ball - or the ape, to be precise - marrying the elements to allow the 'dawn' to delivery everything a grand new day should.

After a brief prologue in which the fragile state of the world is shown since the advent of the fatal Simian flu that severely depleted the population, we enter the bewitching world of the apes, the camera gliding as effortlessly as the beasts themselves as they leap from tree to tree in an all encompassing green forest. We understand the 'almost human' ape Caesar (Andy Serkis in a stunning motion-capture interpretation) with his intelligent eyes, subtly twitching nose and piercing stare as he gesticulates and grunts to his fellow apes by the intriguing use of sub-titles. Cleverly, the filmmakers have allowed the key apes to be instantly recognisable: Caesar, his son Blue Eyes (Nick Thurston: 'scars make you strong') and the ambitious human-hating Koba (Tony Kebbell) whose ugly features and prominent killer teeth reflect his personality perfectly. Endowed with human sensibilities - even to the extent of philosophising that the difference between them and man is that humans kill each other, by the time the apes storm the human world, we cannot help but empathise with their logic.

It is a small group led by Malcolm (Jason Clarke) that tumbles across the apes in the forest as they search for a solution to the human's power crisis and when the first human-ape interaction takes place. There are several effective plot strands between the humans including the relationship between Malcolm, his new medico wife Ellie (Keri Russell) and Malcolm's withdrawn son Alexander (Kodi Smit-McPhee) who sketches to express his thoughts. While a relationship with the Caesar and the apes is developed by this group, former military man Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) is intent on a full scale war. But it is the apes that are the stars.

The scale is massive and the depiction eerily realistic, with the balance teetering back and forth as the tenuous relationship between man and ape develops. Terrifying and especially effective is the primal screeching, accompanied by timpani with bass undertones as the relationships deteriorate. Of course, there's a fascination when the apes speak although it would be fair to say their signing communication and high-pitched shrieking is far more unnerving. My favourite line comes when Caesar notes 'How much like them we are,' referring to Koba's betrayal and lust for killing. There are splashes of humour, too: watch for the scene in which Koba spits a raspberry and runs rings around two gun-toting men, as he successfully makes fun of them.

The inevitable alpha male physical battle between Caesar and Koba does not disappoint and the spectacular, climactic sequences when all hell breaks loose on multi-levels of a scaffold, is outright thrilling. The ultimate power of the film comes from the innate handling of the fine line that unites and separates man and beast. If this is the dawn, imagine the potential of what is to come in the next installment.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES 3D (M)
(US, 2014)

CAST: Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Andy Serkis, Judy Greer, Jason Clarke, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Kevin Rankin

PRODUCER: Peter Chernin, Dylan Clark, Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver

DIRECTOR: Matt Reeves

SCRIPT: Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Mark Bomback

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Michael Seresin

EDITOR: William Hoy, Stan Salfas

MUSIC: Michael Giacchino

PRODUCTION DESIGN: James Chinlund

RUNNING TIME: 130 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 10, 2014







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