“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” is out in theaters this weekend.
The film is the sequel to 2011’s reboot which featured James Franco. This time around Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, and Jason Clarke ("Zero Dark Thirty") join a new cast in what is surprisingly sounding like one of the better summer movies in a pretty lackluster season.
And while the film isn’t being heralded by everyone as an overall masterpiece, there is one overwhelmingly positive reason to go out to see the film.
Critics are absolutely entranced by motion-capture wizard Andy Serkis and the apes on screen.
"The film is so fortunate to have Serkis, whose work here and as Gollum in the 'Lord of the Rings' and 'Hobbit' films turns motion capture into an art form all by himself. He and his fellow mo-cap actors truly make us believe we are watching intelligent apes in action, and that is not something you see every day."
"Splendidly realized by actors transformed by visual effects supervisor Joe Letteri, the simians are creatures of remarkable power and nuance. Serkis, who brought Peter Jackson’s Gollum and King Kong to pulsing life, and who deservedly gets top billing in Dawn, plays Caesar as a wise, wizened leader stooped by the burden of wielding power judiciously."
"'Dawn' gives Serkis a bonafide performance that's like an organic special effect. Even James Cameron's blue-faced 'Avatar' creations didn't contain such facial nuances."
“All of the apes are incredibly enjoyable to watch on screen. The apes’ feelings are conveyed beautifully, mainly through facial animation and sign language. Though only one or two of them actually speak, they are remarkably expressive characters.”
"To a surprising degree, 'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes' belongs to the monkeys. In the uncommonly sure-handed fusion of computer-generated and live-action images, apes are the more fully realized, expressive characters. Given that the apes communicate in sign language and spurts of English, this may be the biggest summer movie with so many subtitles.”
"The undisputed king of motion-capture performance, Serkis makes this older, wiser Caesar both physically and emotionally convincing. A scene of him watching footage of his old “master” is a triumph of collaboration, the CGI animators capturing the small waves of sadness and affection dancing across Serkis’ digitally scanned face."
"His facial expressions and body language are so evocatively and precisely rendered that it is impossible to say where his art ends and the exquisite artifice of Weta Digital, the special-effects company, begins."
The biggest complaints pick at the film for feeling like a franchise vehicle and for offering bland human characters alongside such charismatic computer-animated apes.
"A failing of 'Apes," it's that it feels like yet another manufactured franchise. Talented people like Reeves and Serkis are brought in like HGTV fixer-uppers to restore mossy pop-culture properties."
“If only as much care were put into the film's human characters. Oldman nearly pops a hernia from hamming it up so hard, and Clarke's melancholy eyes are so perpetually moist in his admiration of the apes, you want to offer a tissue.”
However, if you're to believe the New York Post, you would think it's one of the best movies you'll ever see.
"The eighth “Planet of the Apes” movie is easily the best, suspenseful and scary and cured of the silliness that infused all previous iterations, even the 1968 original — a fun kids’ movie oddly anointed a classic when those kids grew up while retaining their childish tastes.”
Check out a trailer for the film below: