Dawn of the Planet of the Apes  (2014)    65/100

Rating :   65/100                                                                   130 Min          12A

The sequel to 2011’s very successful, and very good, ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ continues with the story a decade further down the line, with Caesar and his motley bunch of intelligent apes living free in the wild whilst humanity attempts to deal with the deadly ‘Simian Flu’ virus unleashed at the end of the previous film. In a nutshell, this is nowhere near as good (although it is still a country mile better than Tim Burton’s take on the story back in 2001) but it does just about enough to pass mustard as the next chapter in the franchise.

This has a significantly increased action quotient compared to its predecessor, and in terms of the script it’s much more, ahem, primitive – at times it even feels like scenes must have been omitted that were necessary to explain certain things, and at various points the characters feel a little forced and silly. The plot centers on what’s left of the human populace in San Francisco trying to access a hydroelectric dam in the ape controlled forest in order to restore power, which proves to be a diplomatic nightmare for both sides, eventually setting precedent for relations between the two species in the future.

The human protagonists are played by Jason Clarke, Keri Russell and Gary Oldman, with Andy Serkis returning to play Caesar and Toby Kebbell (who’s slated to play Doctor Doom in the Fantastic Four reboot, incidentally) giving a very good performance as the other main monkey, I mean ape, Koba. This has a similar feel to the original series of films which started with the magnificent ‘Planet of the Apes’ (68) and kind of then went steadily downhill with ‘Beneath the Planet of the Apes (70), ‘Escape from the Planet of the Apes’ (71), ‘Conquest of the Planet of the Apes’ (72), ‘Battle for the Planet of the Apes’ (73) and a couple of TV series before the eventual appearance of Burton’s aforementioned attempt which choked and died instantly. Interestingly, the original film is based on a novel by French author Pierre Boulle, who also penned ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai’, which of course then inspired another of the most famous movies of all time. This particular outing in the Apes series is reasonably entertaining, but I think it’s best to go in with pretty low expectations …

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