Dawn of the Planet of the Apes ★★★★
I grew up obsessed with the original Planet of the Apes series – five films, TV spin-off, Marvel comics, bubblegum cards – and initially regarded the 2011 reboot, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, with suspicion. But the motion-capture technology really worked and it’s proving a thoroughly modern franchise. Part two, Dawn, picks up ten years after the flu pandemic that ended Rise, with lead ape Caesar – in the empathic, expressive form of Andy Serkis – running a colony in the hills outside San Francisco. Ape-human equilibrium is affected by Jason Clarke’s band of human survivors in the city, who want to restart a hydroelectric power station which is in simian territory. A fragile détente doesn’t last long, as angry bonobo Koba (Toby Kebbell) proves resistant to just getting along. The post-apocalyptic mood is superbly captured by director Matt Reeves and Gary Oldman and Keri Russell (The Americans) shine among the minority human cast, but it’s the apes who make it. So, while the original Apes run fizzled somewhat, this new series improves. Part three, War for the Planet of the Apes, is due this summer.
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