There’s a lot at stake with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: human supremacy on a post-apocalyptic Earth, the well-being of a 45-year-old franchise property… the summer box office.
With ticket sales down across the board, Dawn finds itself in the once unlikely position of summer savior. The 2011 reboot, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which starred James Franco and Andy Serkis as the motion-capture Prometheus ape, Caesar, was a solid critical and popular hit, grossing $176.7 million.
Expectation are much higher for Dawn, which is set 10 years after the events of Rise. Humanity has been devastated by the simian flu, leaving Caesar and his tribe of apes to prosper in the woods outside San Francisco. In the decaying urban landscape, however, are a ragtag group of human survivors, led by Jason Clarke, who wants to live in peace with the intelligent apes, and Gary Oldman, who plays an ape-hating fascist who wants a war while man still has the advantage.
Serkis, once again, is the major star. Since playing Gollum in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings, he’s become the Olivier of motion-capture, breathing life into pseudo-CG-animated creations like King Kong. With the even more-advanced technology and his finely-tuned artistry, you can expect another flurry of essays urging the Academy to recognize excellence in this growing field. “Despite all the obscuring layers of digital trickery, the actor manages to convey an impressive physicality and array of emotions, from hope to grief to rage,” writes EW’s Chris Nashawaty, in his review. “I won’t spoil which side wins the interspecies showdown, but when it comes to who does the better acting, the apes carry the day, (hairy) hands down.”
Read more from EW’s review, as well as a round-up of other notable critics, below. READ FULL STORY