It was a very admirable gesture for our particular Cineworld cinema to replicate some of the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ post apocalyptic, San Francisco city-scapes within the resplendent confines of London’s ‘glorious’ Trocadero. Internal scaffolding precariously erected, looking like it may collapse at any point and neglected stairwells and dimly lit, forgotten about corridors leading to God knows where, hiding God knows what. They’ve clearly gone out of their way to make Dawn of The Planet of The Apes a truly interactive and resounding success; but what of the film itself?
Decent reviews and a little bit of tentative curiosity got me through the doors and having not seen its predecessor, ‘The Rise…’ I was unaware of the kind of approach that this particular Apes franchise has taken. Certainly with director Matt Reeves (of the excellent ‘Cloverfield’ fame) on board, I was hopeful of good things. Let’s face it, anything has to be a step up from Tim Burton’s 2001 ‘Planet of the Apes’ outing.
‘Dawn’ is a familiar cocktail of such issues as good against bad, trust and distrust, envy, bitterness, forgiveness, revenge and retribution and in all fairness, the film, whilst offering exactly zero twists and turns plot-wise, is more than watchable, if rather forced at times. You know where it’s going and it goes there with differing degrees of success along the way.
I’d go so far as to say that the film’s opening hour or so, set largely in the rather damp, foreboding forests on the outskirts of San Francisco, whilst predictable, is actually rather good and it’s beyond this point that, as I so often mention with all things Hollywood, it loses its way somewhat; not irredeemably, but enough that it left me rather unfussed about the film’s conclusion which is, once again, all rather predictable and seemingly deliberately left wide open for the inevitable sequel.
My main frustration with films like this is the ‘what if’ factor; in this case, what if this bleak ape / forest landscape and all of these amazing special effects were used to create a film that was truly ‘dark,’ avant garde and memorable, even ground-breaking, with not a hint of the dumbed down and predictable? A nice thought, but of course these films cost money – big money – so it’s ‘bums on seats time’ once again folks; a shame because certainly visually, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is at least the perfect setting for what could have been something very special indeed.
As it is? It’s OK and it’s most certainly worth a look, even if just for the special effects alone. The CGi really is that good, whilst the 3D version shows a real maturity in its subtle application. It’s not just 3D for the sake of it these days. Things have certainly come a long way in that respect.