14 July 2014 11:37 AM, PDT | Thompson on Hollywood | See recent Thompson on Hollywood news »

It is not easy being a mere mortal pitted against a population of spectacular CG-enhanced and motion-capture simians. But Jason Clarke does our species proud as Malcolm, the human emissary who seeks a peaceful co-existence with the genetically evolved beasts who now have the upper paw in “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.” The Australian actor, whose waterboarding skills as a CIA interrogator in 2012’s “Zero Dark Thirty” left quite a disturbing impression, shows an altruistic side without getting all sappy. Or snappish, as was the case with Charlton Heston‘s shout-prone astronaut in the 1968’s “Planet of the Apes.” While Andy Serkis is getting the lion's share of praise for his motion capture performance as Caesar, Clarke scored some upbeat notices too. “A former architect whose heroics ring true, with overtones of strength and kindness that reminded me of Paul Newman," writes “Wall Street Journal’s” Joe Morgenstern. »

- Susan Wloszczyna

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