Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

DotPotA poster20th Century Fox/Chernin Ent./TSG Ent. (2014) 130 min. PG-13

Director: Matt Reeves

Screenplay: Mark Bomback, Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver; inspired by Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle

Cinematography: Michael Seresin; Editing: William Hoy & Stan Salfas

Production Design: James Chinlund; Set Decoration: Amanda Moss Serino

Costumes: Melissa Bruning; Score: Michael Giacchino

Stars: Andy Serkis (Caesar), Jason Clarke (Malcolm), Gary Oldman (Dreyfuss), Keri Russell (Ellie), Toby Kebbell (Koba), Kodi Smit-McPhee (Alexander), Kirk Acevedo (Carver), Karin Konoval (Maurice), Nick Thurston (Blue Eyes), Terry Notary (Rocket), Doc Shaw (Ash)  

Cinema’s umpteenth Planet of the Apes film isn’t a great movie, but it allows a director brand new to the franchise to take a great crack at interpreting the theme. In Matt Reeves’ unusually sensitive hands, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes manages to be unaccountably moving at times, even while we’re laughing at ourselves for being so easily taken in and emotionally manipulated. It should be impossible to take these Ape films seriously on any level other than silly camp but the last two titles have both managed to be deeply affecting. They’re too excessively well-made to brush off lightly and Reeves shows respect for his talking monkeys, rather than approaching them with mockery. True, the concept demands some getting used to. Initially it seems like something Michael Crichton might have conceived, like Congo or maybe even Konga.

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