Last Wednesday evening 25 or 30 journos were shown five or six scenes from Matt Reeves‘ Dawn Of The Planet of the Apes (20th Century Fox, 7.11). It was a chance to sample the quality of the visual effects, which of course are top-notch, as well as the performances from both the ape and human characters, which I was genuinely impressed by. It was also a chance to get an idea of what kind of film this might turn out to be.
The footage suggested that Dawn is going to be solid and sturdy, but I came away from Wednesday’s screening with a suspicion that it might be not be quite as good as 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which was basically the story of how Andy Serkis‘s Ceasar got smarter and stronger and finally broke out of bondage with his fellow apes. It was all about individual story tension — about the sand pouring out of the glass and the audience wondering when things would finally snap and turn away from James Franco and in Ceasar’s direction.
Dawn seems less personal and more group-oriented. More about military and political tactics than individual direction. Speeches, declarations, taunts, lines in the sand. An ape army standing in opposition to an opposing army of humans. Families and alliances and group dynamics.