By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist June 30, 2014 at 2:39PM
Sequels are a tricky thing, particularly with a new director coming on board. How do you match the success of the preceding movie, take it into new territory, while putting your own mark on the material? It was a big job Matt Reeves ("Cloverfield," "Let Me In") had ahead of him in tackling "Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes," but it looks like he's hit it out of the park.
Feeling very confident, 20th Century Fox has started showing it early to critics and the first wave of reviews have come in, and they are almost unanimously positive. If Rupert Wyatt's "Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes" showed that the franchise could updated, taken seriously and deliver the blockbuster bang audiences now expect, Reeves seems to have taken it to the next level. It's still about two weeks before it will land in cinemas, but Fox will be going in with some pretty terrific buzz ahead of the opening. But enough from us, here's what critics and sites had to say. And believe it or not:
THR: "...the excellent screenplay by Mark Bomback, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver (the latter two the married co-writers and co-producers of 'Rise') emits grim but timely echoes of any number of contemporary societies coping with conflicts between moderate and extremist elements. It also leads, consciously or not, to reverberations that go as far back as Jean Renoir’s great 'Grand Illusion,' which stressed how the same classes of people in opposing nations can have far more in common than do different classes within the same country."
HitFix: "Heartbreaking and harrowing, 'Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes' is as good as big-budget science-fiction gets, technically dazzling and emotionally demanding."
CinemaBlend: "Critics frequently advise crowds to 'turn off their brains' when it comes to conventional popcorn flicks. The opposite holds true for Dawn. This groundbreaking, challenging and immensely rewarding sequel offers audiences a veritable feast consisting of mature science-fiction themes, complex emotional performances (both human and digital), and riveting combat set pieces."
Screen Daily: "The sequel to sci-fi franchise reboot 'Rise Of The Planet of the Apes' is heavier on ape-vs-human action than its predecessor and lighter on the kind of intimate drama that three years ago made the reboot a surprisingly affecting late summer hit. As such, the relatively generic 'Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes' is less emotionally resonant than 'Rise'...."
Film School Rejects: "...nothing in this movie feels calculated, prepackaged or made solely to sell toys. 'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes' isn’t just a great time at the theater, but a genuinely great movie without a single dull moment."
Variety: "An altogether smashing sequel to 2011′s better-than-expected 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes,' this vivid, violent extension of humanoid ape Caesar’s troubled quest for independence bests its predecessor in nearly every technical and conceptual department, with incoming helmer Matt Reeves conducting the proceedings with more assertive genre elan than 'Rise' journeyman Rupert Wyatt."
Meanwhile, check out this ominous 4th of July TV spot below.