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Critics Go Ape In First Reviews For 'Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes'

by Kevin Jagernauth
June 30, 2014 2:39 PM
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Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes

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.

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  • LA2000 | June 30, 2014 7:11 PMReply

    While the contemporary, studio perspective is that reviews don't matter (that much), I would suggest that uniformly excellent reviews combined with a picture that already has some audience interest behind it creates a behemoth at the box office.

    With 10 days or so til opening, "Dawn" could grow into the biggest 3 day opening of the year and, if it tracks with audiences the way it tracks with critics, could well top "X Men: DOFP" as the highest grossing film of the summer. We are about to witness the "Gravity" phenomenon on steriods.

    Prediction: worldwide box office north of $775 million. Oscar nomination for Best Picture and Serkis for Best Actor, along with 4 (or more) technical nominations.

    Matt Reeves is about to become the new Christopher Nolan. Lucky for Fox they have him locked in for the sequel. Sad for his agent and accountant who will have to wait 2 more years to cash in.

  • j | July 1, 2014 9:58 AM

    Totally agree with this. Apart from the Christopher Nolan bit. He's not the writer that Nolan is. He can shepherd an intelligent blockbuster though, that's for sure.

  • Kyle | June 30, 2014 5:39 PMReply


    I appreciate the first film for not completely submitting to summer blockbuster conventions, and while it was a good film, it wasn't great, though it had great moments.

    Dawn expands the scope, while including more action sequences, but the action serves a purpose to the emotional aspect of the story, and that emotional aspect has also been heightened and more fleshed out from the previous film.

    I'm not sure where else the film could go but post-apocalyptic, considering the original film series for which it precedes chronologically.

  • RNL | June 30, 2014 9:13 PM

    I doubt I'm going to like this as much as Rise, really, but it remains to be seen. I know the series can't really become anything other than post-apocalyptic; what I mean is that this film seems to have reached the point in the story that was the actual raison d'etre for the reboot in the first place. The content of the original is the stuff that would've typically been covered in act 1 of the reboot, so I'm just glad we got that fleshed out to feature-length before getting to the more generic stuff.

  • James M. | June 30, 2014 3:19 PMReply

    "How do you match the success of the preceding movie, take it into new territory, which putting your own mark on the material?"

    Well, this is a lovely sentence.

  • Stephen | June 30, 2014 10:28 PM

    Look here everyone - they misspelled "while" and it was auto corrected to "which". DOES EVERYONE SEE THIS MOMENTOUS DISCOVERY JAMES M. HAS MADE????

  • RNL | June 30, 2014 3:09 PMReply

    The ScreenDaily comments are what I expected from this: something more of a standard post-apocalyptic sci-fi blockbuster thing. The reboot was such an unusual tentpole, it's not even an action movie, it has one big action sequence, but the first hour is a very sad and humane drama. I didn't expect them to repeat that anomaly.

  • DG | June 30, 2014 3:02 PMReply

    Wow I. Happy to hear this is good. I always want these kind of movies to be compelling but they so rarely are

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