Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The opening scenes of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes depict a civilization where apes are the superiors. They hunt in packs, communicate with sign language, build forts and have a clear hierarchy. These first moments set up the film perfectly, showing that the apes are perfectly capable of living a peaceful life without the human race. However, this picture of harmony is interrupted by a group of humans, led by Malcolm (Jason Clarke). After a tense stand off, the humans return to San Francisco, where the citizens are trying to rebuild their lives. Here we see the disastrous effect that the simian flu outbreak had on the human race, and the vast difference between the apes' progress and the human's regress.

Tension between the humans and the apes rises as Malcolm and his family return to the forest to try and make peace. Caesar, the leader of the apes, whose story was first told in Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011), is shown as a powerful, wise figure and can be considered as the hero of the film. As he was raised by a human, he sympathises with them and , like Malcolm, wants to make peace. He is played by Andy Serkis, "the king of motion capture", and his movements and body language are a perfect blend of ape and human. This is also true for every single one of the apes, especially Koba, Caesar's aggressive sidekick. The CGI is stunning throughout and never fails to impress. It is all to easy to forget about the motion capture altogether. This might just be the most impressive CGI I've ever seen.

What the film does so well is address real world issues without being blindingly obvious about it eg. animal testing. For a large part of the movie, it is unclear who to side with, as it is possible to sympathise with both the humans and the apes. This creates moral dilemmas for the viewer, which no other recent blockbusters can claim to have done. The buildup of tension in many scenes involves the viewer, with never a dull moment. These tense scenes with a dramatic end result remind me of Godzilla (2014), which also used this technique to good effect.

In summary, this is a dramatic, captivating and very clever film which delivers greatly in the final scenes. Under the explosive outer layer, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is full of emotion, passion and realistic issues, making it one of the most intelligent blockbusters in years. A must see.