CINEMA REVIEW: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (12) review by Gavin Miller

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Whatever you feel about this sequel to 2011’s break-out smash hit re-boot of the Planet of the Apes franchise – it’s a technological marvel.

There’s no surprise there’s early talk of Andy Serkis – the guy behind Gollum and King Kong – being up for awards, despite only playing the lead role of super-intelligent ape Caesar in a ‘virtual’ capacity, via state-of-the-art performance capture technology.

And there’s more good new too – the film’s pretty darn good as well.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is set ten years after ‘Rise’, with Caesar (Serkis), his right-hand erm, monkey Koba (played by Toby Kebbell, who will soon star as Dr Doom in the Fantastic Four reboot) and his growing nation of genetically evolved apes finding solace in a forest not too far from the battle of San Francisco’s Golden Gate bridge, which ended the last film.

Since then a devastating virus that was started in the lab of James Franco’s Will Rodman – who is seen posthumously via photos and video camera footage – has wiped out the vast majority of the world’s population.

But when a band of survivors (headed by Gary Oldman’s Dreyfus) situated in the city need to get an old generator up-and-running to create power for their mini utopia, a team of engineers – including Jason Clarke’s Malcolm (Zero Dark Thirty) and Keri Russell’s Ellie (Mission: Impossible III) – stumble across the apes’ secretive habitat.

Despite Caesar initially banishing them from the forest, he sparks an uneasy truce with Malcolm to allow his team to restore electricity on the premise the ape population – which now has gained the ability to talk – is then left in peace.

But when Koba – still severely scarred from his experimental damage seen in the first movie – survey’s the human population’s new makeshift village, he gets spooked by gun activity at the site and starts to get itchy feet, and the need to go against Caesar’s wishes.

Soon this fragile new-found peace goes pear-shaped, and both sides are brought to the brink of war, with Caesar and Malcolm – who have slowly sparked a mutual trust –caught bang in the middle.

Fortunately the intelligent and sometimes emotive storyline does the fantastic special effects justice, with Cloverfield director Matt Reeves competently taking the sequel to the next level from its solid foundations.

It is again hampered by ‘generic blockbuster ending’ syndrome – with its predictable final battle – but that can’t undo all the good work and energy that has been put into this movie by Serkis, Clarke and co.

Compared to Transformers, this is a work of art. Go ape.