Monday, 21 July 2014


The eyes have it. The furrowed brow and the feral war paint give way to signs of curiosity, affinity, empathy. Those bright green eyes that close Dawn of the Planet of the Apes are so clearly not those of a chimpanzee. They're the eyes of a human being; it's a fashion among non-superhero blockbusters of our time that our enemies, the unknown, will prevail as the superior species. It's to this film's credit that, not only does it posit the argument that we are none of us defined by blanket-clause traits but by our limitless capacity for difference, it makes a less comforting claim too: that human beings will continue to discriminate and to persecute, even after we've been bitten in the ass for it too many times before. The dialogue in Dawn is hardly Shakespeare, but its thematic resonance is rich and profound, and it plays out like a spoken thesis at times. Actually, in the film's beautifully sensitive opening scenes, in which this society of super-intelligent primates is characterised as an indigenous tribe (listen to Michael Giacchino's distinctly Copland-esque score for the suggestion of an ancient America), it's barely spoken at all, but signed, and the film begins as a sensory experience. Matt Reeves' images do not always carry the grandeur they seek to attain, though an ape assault on San Francisco is searing visual filmmaking, but the soundtrack - is there a finer, 'classical' composer than Giacchino in the industry? - dutifully assists, and the soundscape is vivid and realistic, like the exceptional visual effects. Reeves grasps that high-stakes, big-budget cinema works on the same fundamental requirements of any film, and displays a keen feel for physical space, and how one's environment affects one's mood and actions. He's not averse to unnecessary showmanship at times, but he generally puts it to effective use.