To which I reply humans. together. kinda strong. . .
Somehow I feel like the lone wolf writing this (or lone ape! Geez! Didn't mean to be 'animalist'!). I understand that plenty of you will love and do love this film, and I can understand that. It doesn't work for me though. I neither enjoy it all that much, and preference aside, I don't think it is that great of a movie. Don't get me wrong, there are definitely things to like about this film.
Let's start with obvious: Andy Serkis's performance. He has gravitas that carries not only his scenes, but the film as well. We've all seen this before whether it was his insanely brilliant performance as Gollum or his numerous other performance capture work. Is this particular performance Oscar worthy? I really don't know. This day and age I doubt it will be nominated because of what appears to be a lack of willingness for the Academy to adjust their perceptions to qualify voice work or performance capture as “real acting”. Maybe a separate category for this would suffice, but that appears to be a ways off. Whatever happens, we just need to acknowledge what a real talent Andy Serkis is and applaud him for what he doing for the ever-changing landscape of cinema.
The visual effects are also stunning. This is essentially Avatar level. I will be honest and say that at moments the apes when they are forced to have close up shots next to the humans don't look as real as one might hope. Though, when they are by themselves they look mind bogglingly good. This is showcased really well in the battle sequences and the emotional moments with the deep expressions on the apes faces.
With this out of the way, the film doesn't quite work as a whole. There are glimmers of pure brilliance in the dramatic moments, and I can say the same about of some the action pieces; but somehow they never quite mesh. The drama doesn't quite feed into the action and vice versa. And when these two do work together it all starts to feel cliché and forced (That's what she said! Ok, pretend I didn't say that).
This feeds into the hollow supporting characters. Besides Casaer himself, literally no one has much depth. The little depth there is, is barely explored and the subplots it does delve into are a waste of time for their little importance to the overarching plot. Many of the characters could have been conjoined into one. This might have provided a more rewarding realization of motivations and more human depth instead of one note caricatures (regardless of how well they are acted), but I have a feeling this was never explored in the writer's room. Part of you want to care about the others for your affection towards Caesar alone, but there is not enough spark or soul in their connections to warrant this. Everyone is basically just there and they are no more than a plot device to keep the story moving.
This might work if the story was truly great, but it isn't. It has its moments, but in the end it is incredibly predictable in its manipulation of emotions as everything starts to become forced and derivative of countless films before. I could put in further nitpicks with logic, slow pacing, and delivery of exposition; but I will spare you as I myself as well am getting tired of finding flaws.
With all my gripes, when it truly comes down to it, there is plenty of things to love about Dawn of the Planet of Apes. There is something for everyone, whether it is the superb performance by Andy Serkis, the top notch special effects, glimmers of brilliance in some of the dramatic moments, or great fight sequences. This also however means, in this films case, that there can be little for everybody. The butter of excellence is spread thin on the bread of the plot and the cinnamon of action is dispersed unevenly and too far away from the sugar of dramatic moments to provide any real satisfying flavor. Not all films that everyone loves are films that I can love. I understand that, but I genuinely wanted to love this film. I really did. That is why I went to the “midnight” screening of it. I guess it wasn't meant to be. That's alright though. We have another dystopian future to look forward to with Mockingjay.
Personal Preference: 2.75/5
How Well It Was Made: 3.25/5