Years have passed after the events of Rise of the Planet of the Apes and an outbreak of simian flu has smoked a large percentage of the human race. The apes exist in peace in their own realm, but trouble starts when a group of human survivors venture into their territory in search of electricity.
DOTPOTA runs a lot deeper than just a simple humans vs apes story. Apes are not the enemy, but neither are humans. Gary Oldman’s character is hell bent on wiping the animals out, while on the apes’ side Caesar (an astonishing performance from Andy Serkis yet again) has to contend with the hateful and violent Koba (Toby Kebbell, also astonishing). It’s these nuances that keep the story grounded among the monkeys-on-horseback setpieces.
Much like he did with Cloverfield, director Matt Reeves succeeds at creating a decaying, imposing and desolate world that is also plausible. He’s also great with large-scale destruction of civilisations without overdoing the explosions, which makes the chaos in the third act much more effective.
The clip that aired during the World Cup semi final, of Koba shooting a man in the face, drew complaints from parents for a reason. The tone veers sharply and seamlessly from sci-fi/action to chilling horror. That is in no way a criticism.
There has been talk of how hardly any female characters feature in the film (some interesting points are made in both of these articles – thanks, Sophia!) and to be honest, while watching I got swept away by the brilliance of the film and I didn’t notice. Looking back on it however, it should have been glaringly obvious. In terms of women we have Keri Russell’s Ellie, and Caesar’s other half Cornelia who, as Vulture rightfully points out, you don’t even know is called Cornelia unless you IMDB that shizz later.
The most disheartening thing about it is that the lack of female characters was not intentional – it just sorta happened. Reeves himself has admitted he doesn’t know why DOTPOTA contains hardly any women and that’s sad. Female characters wasn’t even something that came up in discussion, and that’s a problem most films still have. Dudes are the default. This isn’t to take anything away from this movie – I loved it – but there’s room for improvement should a sequel go into production (which it hopefully will).
I’ll finish on a positive note. This is going to sound flowery, but there’s a great message here about judging people on their good and bad qualities as individuals instead of lumping everyone together with sweeping generalisations. Also there’s a baby ape in it and it’s soooooooooooo cute.
FIVE OUT OF FIVE