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Film of the Week: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (12A) ****

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Blending state-of-the-art special effects with an intelligent script, Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes conjures two hours of animal magic that looks set to be crowned king of the blockbuster swingers.

Tim Burton’s abortive Planet Of The Apes is now a distant memory thanks to the 2011 revamp Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes and this superior sequel, which pushes the art of motion-capture performance to new limits.

Andy Serkis’ exemplary work as Caesar, the super-intelligent chimpanzee who leads the ape uprising, is the film’s emotional heartbeat.

His ability to convey the character’s rage, despair and passion through movement and subtle gesture is breathtaking.

Toby Kebbell is also compelling as Caesar’s war-mongering rival, who believes the key to his species’ survival is the extermination of humans.

Mark Bomback, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver’s script elegantly draws parallels between the feuding primates, juxtaposing tender scenes of parenting with bruising skirmishes that create divisions on both sides.

Picking up 10 years on from the end of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Dawn... is a slick thrill ride with brains as well as brawn.

The grim mood, which permeates the first half, leads to all-guns-blazing war and director Reeves orchestrates these brutal sequences with elan.

Digital effects are jaw-dropping, giving birth to a realistic army of blood-thirsty apes who cram every chaotic, blood-spattered frame.

The film’s strong anti-gun message comes through loud and clear, but the appetite for destruction overpowers diplomacy.

‘I always think ape better than humans,’ laments Caesar as his dream of lasting peace founders.

‘I see now how like them we are.’

 

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