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Much More Than Just a Typical Summer Blockbuster
I thought this movie was superior for a summer blockbuster. It was well acted, the motion capture (all apes were motion capture) was superb, and there were some truly wonderful shots.
In terms of acting the humans, Jason Clarke, Keri Russell, Gary Oldman, etc.. were all very good. Nothing that screams awards but very good. The stars of the show were Andy Serkis (Caesar) and Toby Kebbel (Koba). Serkis will once again create a debate as to whether a stop action performance is worthy of award consideration. Kebbel should be part of this conversation, for a supporting role, as well.
The motion capture was fantastic. The apes jumped off the screen. There is nothing more that can be said except that at this point "Dawn" should sweep all special effects awards at all the awards shows. Granted, there are other movies coming out later this year which could change things. But, at this points "Dawn" is "THE" high water mark for motion capture. The highest compliment I can give is that the Apes looked real. Also meriting high praise was the cinematography at times. There wide shots of the apes running in large groups that were breathtaking. But, the stand out shots were to long, static shots that used fire as framing devices. One involves Koba on horseback galloping through fire and the other a shot of raging apes in a village with a raging fire framing the whole thing. Both shots were fabulous and one gets completely lost in them. The battle scenes were not awe inspiring, except for aforementioned Koba scene, but they were very intense and well choreographed and shot.
Lastly, I am not one who feels it necessary to find negatives to give a sense of balance. If there were none, or at least worth mentioning, I would not. Here however, it must be mentioned that the pacing is off at times. Simply put, the movie drags or is "too slow" at times. Thus, it leaves one feeling that the movie was too long.