Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, directed by Matt Reeves, is an exciting chapter in the on-going Apes saga that features some of the best CGI work I've seen in a feature film since Avatar, some passable performances, and a surprisingly heartfelt action blockbuster in a summer of mindless action and dramatically barren cinema.
The sequel to Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which was a surprise hit in 2011, managed to pull in more than $470 million worldwide, and, three years later, Dawn picks up ten years later, quite a jump even for this type of franchise, in which the humans attempt to reclaim fuel, but there is only one problem: said power source, a dam, is in the middle of ape territory, which sets off a series of intense stand-offs between the two species, and soon, full-on war begins, and, let's just say, you'll walk away satisfied.
Andy Serkis brings a tragic, Oscar-worthy performance in the form of Caesar, and is played with grace. Jason Clarke plays Malcom, a man who believes peace can be made with the primates. Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) gives him three days to try to convince the apes to use the dam. If not, war will break out. In the middle is Koba (Toby Kebbell), an ape that thinks peace cannot be reached, humans are weak and evil, and all-out war is inevitable. The ending will definitely leave people talking, even though the conclusion is in the title.
The running time is a bit brisk, running slightly longer than I would've liked, 130 minutes in all. The first half is kinetic and fun, the second half takes a more dramatic approach, with the entire whole winding up with a burst of technical bombast and 3D spectacle.