best of SUMMER MOVIES – #2


Most of us go to the movies to turn off our brain. DAWN turned on my heart.

I am a big fan of the first movie in this rebooted series with James Franco. I did not expect the sequel to be any better. I didn’t think it was possible. And I’m speaking largely on an emotional level. I had so much empathy for the characters in part 1 – humans included.

James Franco with Caesar in the first film

This emotional bond continues to strengthen with the sequel. I love CEASAR. I am on his side. No doubt. I don’t care if I am human. Ape is right. What we have here is a sort of divide amongst the apes, kind of like Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. Peace vs by any means necessary.

Ape culture has evolved, using beasts of burden

The humans take a back seat in this edition. I’m okay with that. With this movie, I’m actually more interested in the apes. So I want to spend as much time absorbing their culture as possible.

By the time the 3rd act settles in we have definitely had some action. And it just continues. The final battle could have used a stronger setting, but the streets on horseback was a super excellent standout. What a cinematic image.


We begin this movie on super close-up of Casear (the computer-generated ape). I saw this in theatrical 3D, and it was mind-blowing. Not the final action sequence. No. The opening shot of a face. That says a lot.

I understand the controversy surrounding Oscar nominations for acting. Andy Serkis, via motion capture artistry, delivers an amazing performance. I was moved. Fully. Just mind-blowing. So effective. What’s wrong with a nomination here? If not, give the man a special award for his contributions to this field of “digital make-up”. Andy SERKIS is a pioneer.

Digital make-up & motion-capture at its best

A hero is nothing without their villain. And Koba (Toby Kebbell) is a brilliant villain. From his mockery of humans to the powerfully emotional dialogue, “Human… Work.” Koba even uses some manipulative underhanded tactics to deceive his people. It had me gasping at screen, “Et tu Brute?” By the way, I love the subtle subtext with the “humanwork” line, as he points to his body. Is Koba also subtly suggesting the work of the CG artists who designed and animate him?

Toby Kebbell as the villain, Koba

I also love the scientific aspects involved. Like ape speech formed with sharp breaths. My understanding is apes couldn’t physically talk if they wanted. Something to do with structure of pallet and the way the skull contacts the spine.  I love that they consider this. I think this is why the scene stealing orangotan still must use Sign Language. It is upon evolution to upright bipedals that we humans became physically capable of speech. But I digress.

Shared communication between species

It’s a subject worth exploring. Like the Bonobo chimp Kanzi and her lexigram communication system. With this device she demonstrates the intelligence of a child. What’s most important to note there, is the PHD scientists using the lexigram system ALSO demonstrate the intelligence level of a child. While I love movies, I’m also really interested in shared communication platforms amongst animals. I hope to post science themed articles soon. That’s nerdy too right.

CLICK to learn more – don’t let Kanzi’s remarkable true story SLIP/THROUGH your minds… let it resonate

With the way motion capture keeps evolving, I imagine in a decade or so Serkis will be mimicking the performances of Humphrey Bogart or James Dean or something. I’m joking. Only… until I’m not. It’s coming folks. Simulated actors. I can’t wait for the Neo-Noirs with Bogart and Clooney. Now if only they could simulate writers and directors from the film noir heydays. Alas, I digress… um, again…

Bogart & Bacall in THE BIG SLEEP

I hope Hollywood takes note. The audience wants to feel something as well. Even in a big special effects driven movie. Give us something to care about and we will champion your work. We don’t need TRANSFORMERS 8. We need a balance between cinema and movies. I really feel like DAWN is just the first step.

Unlike most summer flicks, you care about the characters in DAWN OF THE APES.

The smartest decision with this new franchise was not remaking the original cult classic. Director Matt Reeves again creates some impressive visuals. I’m refering to his camerawork and iconic character framing. This is another young director influenced by growing up in the Spielberg era.

Vintage Spielberg & Lucas… imagine if they were just starting out in the days of CGI

The film also has some nice homages to the 1967 PLANET OF THE APES. The most impressive element is the whimsical musical score reminiscent of the masterful work by Jerry Goldsmith from decades ago.



the chicken before the egg… the 1967 cult classic

What do you think? Should Andy Serkis get award nominated? Leave a comment.

Did you enjoy the drama/emotion in this movie? Or do you think they need to dial it back and deliver more spectacular action sequences?

Did you miss Mark Whalberg and Tim Burton’s work with their earlier reboot of the original PLANET OF THE APES?


Is anyone else a fan of the original 1967 make-up? For me, it still holds up. I totally get swept away with the magic. And the performances still get through those layers of practical effects. Retro shout out 2000.

So... What'd you think?

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