Trailer Tuesday: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

When franchise reboot/prequel Rise of the Planet of the Apes was announced, I admit I didn't take it very seriously. It just seemed like another unnecessary origin story foisted on us by an unimaginative Hollywood obsessed with explaining and showing everything... because that was so much easier than coming up with an original creative property and plot.

Colour me surprised then when Rise turned out to be one of the best blockbusters of 2011 (my review); a mammoth critical and commercial hit.

Set in the very near, identifiable future - Rise resisted the urge to go full-blown glossy, escapist sci-fi. Instead, aided by Oscar-nominated visual effects and a powerful motion-capture performance by Andy Serkis, Rise told the touching, character-focused story of Caesar, a hyper-intelligent chimpanzee stranded between the worlds of Man and Ape. Misunderstood, frustrated and increasingly angry, Caesar eventually rebels against his mistreatment.

Sequel Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is set a decade after the events of the first film. In that time human civilisation has collapsed as a result of the virus unleashed at the end of Rise. It's a grim post-Apocalyptic world where humanity has dwindled to a few ramshackle, fortified settlements of terrified occupants. Meanwhile, the apes - still led by Caesar - have been evolving their own society in isolation of Man. However, the fragile peace between the two groups will not last.

Although Serkis returns as Caesar, Dawn looks to be a substantial departure from its predecessor - and not just in terms of setting. (The filmmakers are certainly taking us into a more "fantastic", unfamiliar future). There have also been substantial changes in front of and behind the camera. The new human cast includes Gary Oldman, Jason Clarke and Keri Russell, while American Matt Reeves replaces original British director Rupert Wyatt.

Either way, I am still excited for this one. I couldn't care less about the humans, but Caesar is a wonderful, complex character whose continued torn-between-light-and-dark development is something I can't wait to witness.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes opens in North America on 11 July. The film's South African release date is as yet unclear but I would expect it to be around the same time.


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