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on 19 July 2014
Rupert Wyatt's 2011 reboot of the Planet of the Apes Franchise, 'Rise', is one of my favourite films of the last few years. A thrilling action film with an intelligent narrative and plenty of heart, it was an almost totally unexpected and very pleasant surprise. For 'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes', director Matt Reeves continues the story where Wyatt left off, and Reeves has satisfyingly made a sequel of such impressive quality that is at least the equal of its predecessor and in many aspects surpasses it.

The story takes place a decade since Caesar led his fellow apes to begin a new life away from captivity in the forests beyond San Francisco. The group has expanded and thrived and constructed a sort of ape city among the trees. Here, Caesar has continued to command the loyalty of his fellow simians and remains chief, while he now also has a young family of his own to protect. Back in San Francisco, many years have now passed since a deadly virus born from the gaseous form of the drug ALZ-113 (referred to as 'Simian flu') has all but wiped out the human race, though a pocket of survivors exhibiting a genetic resistance remains in the city. The apes and humans have thus been segregated until a chance meeting with a small band of human explorers reunites them once more, bringing back some old memories for Caesar while igniting tensions between the two groups that threatens to boil over into all-out war and a battle for evolutionary superiority.

The film plays on the natural mistrust that the apes have of the humans, and vice versa. While much of the fun of 'Rise' was in watching Caesar's ascension to power as a Spartacus-style leader of his fellow down-trodden apes, 'Dawn' focuses on Caesar's struggle to maintain a fragile peace between his own kind and the race he was brought up amongst. Chief antagonist is Koba, Caesar's general and one time laboratory bonobo whose innate hatred of the human race threatens to destroy all that Caesar has battled to build. In another motion-capture acting tour de force, the outstanding Andy Serkis is again the subject for Caesar's movements and expressions and gives an astonishingly powerful performance that is full of presence, depth and charisma. Caesar has all the makings of a classic film character.

Human performances again mostly take a back seat to Caesar's ongoing struggles. Gary Oldman is a little underused as the embattled leader of a human fraction living within a guarded tower amongst the ruins of San Francisco, but Jason Clarke has plenty to do as Malcolm, the lead of a small group of engineers that take up a role in diplomacy and begin to form a strong bond with Caesar.

The exhilarating action scenes and set pieces are of a grander scale than in 'Rise' and with the use of some truly spectacular digital effects that are as realistic as any you will see, makes for an absorbing visual feast. But the finest achievements of the film lie in it's thoughtful, emotional core, that cleverly aligns our sympathies with both apes and humans and makes for a moving and thoroughly rewarding experience that is far removed from the one-dimensionality of today's brainless blockbusters. Never mind that 'Dawn' heads for a not entirely unpredictable conclusion, this is a quite beautiful film that has clearly been crafted with great care and intelligence. A fabulous achievement. 9.5/10.

Blu-ray review to follow.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 14 February 2016
VIDEO (2D):

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes arrives on blu-ray with MPEG-4 AVC 1080p 1.85:1 encode. The colour was purposely muted, to fit the post apocalyptic and rainy San Francisco and Muir Woods settings. There are tremendous details, like the CGI ape fur, human costumes and rainy forests. Skin tones for both apes and human are well balanced. The blacks are very deep. But the bit-rate was a little low at 23 MBPS. (4.0/5)

VIDEO (3D):

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes 3D blast on to blu-ray with MPEG-4 MVC 1080p 1.85:1 encode. The bit-rate here is much higher at 34 MPBS. The 3D aspect is quite immersive, especially the latter half of the film. There is very good depth separation, especially the opening salvo of apes chasing deer, and of course the epochal final showdown. It is an enjoyable experience. (4.5/5)

AUDIO:

While Dawn of the Planet of the Apes debuted theatrically with a stunning Dolby Atmos surround mix, Fox has elected to release this Blu-ray in 7.1 DTS-HD MA. To most of us, it really does not matter because we don’t have the extra speakers for Dolby Atmos. Dynamic range is wide with excellent fidelity and deep bass. The sound effects recreate everything from the kind of rain forest ambience of Muir Woods to a ferocious fire that engulfs a camp late in the film. It is a very immersive experience. (5/5)

TRIVIA:

1 Dawn of the Planet of the Apes has an estimated budget of $170 million, but has a respectable worldwide gross of $708 million, with 70% from overseas market.
2 In addition to the apes, visual effects company Weta Digital created other digital animals, such as a herd of deer, a grizzly bear, and CG doubles of the live horses.
3 (Spoiler alert) Please stay until the very end of the end credits, when difficult breathing and moving rubble can be heard. This suggests Koba may still be alive?

PACKAGING:

The 3D and 2D versions are in their separated discs. There is no DVD, which is fine with me. If one can cut the cost and our price, I really do not mind just 3D and 2D blu-ray. By the way, the bonus materials are found only in the 2D disc.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is essentially a remake of the Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973). However, it is an emotional, thrilling and suspenseful film, with the filmmakers being smart to juxtapose bombastic ferocity with tender character moments. The star of the film was of course the simians, done with astounding, jaw-dropping realism together with exceptional fine details. The entire film is very enjoyable. My only criticism is that it was 1.85:1. If it were 2.40:1 on my 12 foot wide screen (with anamorphic lens), I can imagine the final visual impact will be much higher. If you don’t have a 3D set, the 2D version is very solid and much cheaper. This set is recommended.
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10 years after the events of Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, a deadly virus has wiped out most of mankind with only a handful of survivors left while the apes are living in the forests. Neither has seen the other for years but an expedition to get power for one of the surviving human cities leads to war between man and ape. A slow but tense build up with excellent cgi effects and a brand new cast lead by Gary Oldman and Jason Clarke this is still setting up the world seen in the classic original Planet Of The Apes which has come a long way from the days of men in monkey suits but the rebooted franchise is turning into an intelligent scifi series every bit as good as the classic original. Andy Serkis deserves an oscar for his motion capture work and is superb as ape leader Caesar but is likely to be ignored by the academy and very good performances from Gary Oldman, Jason Clarke and the rest of the new human cast.
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on 12 November 2014
Upon seeing this, I met up with a mate to discuss our thoughts on this film. His take was this film was essentially the godfather... but with apes.

The more he explained his theory, the more convinced I was won over and now I can't think of this film without thinking of Al Pacino.

Don't be too caught up with all the special effects and CGI. Like the original Star Wars films this sci film has real soul - mainly because it's the tale of two families - one human and one ape.

I won't spoil the plot but like all great tales, this epic is about deceit, intrigue and the thirst for power.

The only criticism I have is the film is a little too slow moving in terms of driving the plot alone but the characters are convincing and you're successfully sucked into this world of man versus disease and then man versus ape. Four stars!
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on 18 July 2014
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was simply excellent. It had an engaging storyline, brilliant direction & cinematography, great pacing, a thought-provoking dilemma on where you draw the line on trusting others, very dramatic and emotional moments, a mesmerising final act and some extremely good motion-capture animation from Andy Serkis amongst others and of course the CGI was really good too. If you enjoyed Rise of the Planet of the Apes, I highly recommend this as it exceeds the first film on almost every level. It's my 2nd favourite film of 2014, behind X-Men: Days of Future Past. I would give it a 9.5/10.
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I looked forward to watching this sequel having enjoyed Rise of the Planet far more than expected.
Sadly Dawn of the Planet is mostly fighting between Apes and Humans and while there is a lot of violent action there was no evolution in the plot beyond the final scene that for me was unsatisfactory.
The humans in this film seem to have learned absolutely nothing. A gun happy individual starts the trouble because he does the typical American thing of shoot first and speak second. Only too late the other (ape in this case) is dead.
There are good and bad apes and ditto humans. No real character developments and no revealing of how people are coping. Also no shortage of cigarettes and working anti biotics ten years later....
Maybe this is where the film joins to the start of the very first original film with Charlton Heston. That was so good.
the best part of this film is the excellent CGI. I just wish the plot matched.
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on 19 July 2014
After the surprising success of reboot Rise of the Planet of Apes, this sequels had a lot to live up to to surpass it and thankfully it delivered with the special effects even better and Andy Serkis once again showing why he's the master of motion capture.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes also tops the action of the previous film and produces more great performances from the human characters. While James Franco was a standout of the first film, very few other human characters stood out, but thankfully with the likes of Gary Oldman, Jason Clarke, Keri Russell and Kodi Smit McPhee it provides the film with more developed human characters and thankfully the film features heroes and villains on both the human and apes sides.
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with amazing CGI.

Mankind has all but been wiped out by a Virus and only a handful of survivors are left.

This particular group are trying to get to a Hydro-Electric Plant so they can generate electricity. However, they hadn't reckoned on being attacked by Apes led by the redoubtable Caesar. There is an uneasy truce but another Ape (Chimpanzee), hates humans and plots to de-throne Caesar, take his place and kill all the remaining humans. I particularly liked the scene where Caesar's partner gives birth and you see the softer side of him.

A stupendous film and well worth buying.
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A TREMENDOUS AND EXCITING SEQUEL'
'Caesar' and his followers have built their own compound in the forests beyond 'San Francisco' over the
past decade.
Mankind is in decline they have been ravaged by a pandemic,the cities have all but been laid to waste,
the peace between man and ape survives as long as they stay apart.
After an incident close to the Apes compound and brief meeting between Man and Ape, 'Caesar' who
understands human-kind warns 'Malcolm' (Jason Clarke) and his team to stay away from the forest where
he and his followers live.
There is an element of the Apes that crave war against their once captors, only the logic of their leader
prevents it.
The people living within the city boundary's have become desperate, they have little or no power-source,
in the forest there is a 'dam' which could generate the power they need, but will 'Caesar' permit a human
presence close by.
'Malcom' who had been in the party involved in the earlier incident seeks consultation with 'Caesar' to try
and reach an agreement to allow a small team to try and get the generator running,if an agreement can be
reached there will be no need for war, 'Caesar' cautiously agree's on the understanding that the humans do
not carry weapons.
'Caesar' (Andy Serkis) wants to give mankind a chance to co-exist but knows how frail an agreement with man
can be, he just hopes.
'Koba' (Toby Kebbell) has no trust of humans and takes it upon himself with a few others with similar views to
find a warehouse where the humans have a large stock-pile of weaponry, 'Koba' knows that it is more than
enough to wipe the Apes out if used against them.
Meanwhile back at the Dam 'Caesar' watches over the human teams progress, however because of the action
taken by 'Koba' trust is wearing thin, the prospect of war becomes even closer.
'Koba's' betrayal will change the course of history, can 'Caesar' re-take control before it's too late or has the line
already been crossed.
This is a sprawling and exciting epic that lays the grounding for what is yet to come, the film will draw you in from
the outset, with some terrific action sequences and an underlying will from both 'Caesar' and 'Malcolm' to maintain
the peace between them.
Brilliant and Eye-Popping Special Effects Throughout, a spectacle to behold indeed.
Impressive in both 3-D and Blu-ray'
Special Features -
* Audio Commentary by Matt Reeves
* Journey to Dawn
* Andy Serkis - Rediscovering Caesar
* Human and Apes - The Cast of Dawn
* The World of Dawn
* The Ape Community
* Move Like an Ape - An Artist's Medium
* Weta and Dawn
* The Fight for a new Dawn
* Deleted Scenes with optional audio by Matt Reeves
* Exodus - Gods and Kings Trailer
* Exodus - Gods and Kings - Sneak Peek
* Stills Gallery
(Special Features are in 2-D)
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on 27 July 2014
But after a week of thinking about it, I just can't.

Dawn is the sequel to Rise (the first should have been Dawn, and this sequel Rise) and Rise was one of my favourite films this decade.
It was an out of nowhere surprise, that revived a franchise I love, and I have revisited it multiple times since.

This sequel had a lot to live up to and although it surpasses the first film in many ways, (effects work, overall scale, musical score)
Dawn has a few flaws I'm finding hard to forgive.

1) The human cast are absolutely awful, every single character is an underwritten cardboard cut-out, and I include Gary Oldman in that.
2) The sub plot about the dam. I don't give a dam about a dam. Its an awful MacGuffin and a weak excuse for ape and human to mingle.
3) Whilst the ending battle is truly fantastic, when this film end I felt the story hadn't progressed enough from when it started. a full blown Planet Of The Apes still seems several films away.
4) The films (for me) money shot, involving Kobas encounter with some gin and a gun, is in the trailer. For me, its the most shocking scene in the entire film, up there with Caesars first 'no' and the trailer blew it.

Overall though, it is a fantastic and smart film, with some of the best effects work ever and Koba is an absolutely FANTASTIC character this time round, stealing the show. It also has some very powerful moments.

I'm not mad at this film, I'm just slightly disappointed.
I'm annoyed at myself for not loving it that little bit more.

And I actually missed Franco.
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