Dawn of the Planet of the Apes 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review
After the surprise success of RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, I had my eyes on how they’d continue the franchise with DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. A lot of times, a successful first film that relied on story, heart and a good screenplay leads to a sequel that throws all of that out the window in favor of explosions and action. Thankfully, director Matt Reeves knew what made Rise work and carried over a lot of the themes into DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES.
Several years have passed since the outbreak of the Simian Flu and the apes have evolved naturally, sticking mainly to their section of the woods. They can ride horses, communicate and have their own community. Things take a turn when two apes accidentally stumble across a group of humans and one of those humans shoots an ape out of fear. This sets up a confrontation where the lead ape Caesar (Andy Serkis) warns the humans to go back to their city and leave the apes alone forever. Of course, things aren’t that simple and it turns out the humans need a source of power close to the apes’ village. This leads to an agreement between the apes and humans and of course, nothing ever turns out like it should.
One of the challenges with making prequels to PLANET OF THE APES is that we all know where the story is going. I think this was in the back of the mind of everyone involved with these film since they don’t waste much time with a false hope that the humans and apes are actually going to be able to work anything out. We know a big war is coming and there’s nothing that can be done to avoid it. Instead, the focus of this film is the source of the fear and frustrations that lead to that war, from both the human and ape standpoints. There are some “bad apples” on both sides that nudge things along, but even without them, it’s clear that in this world, humans and apes aren’t going to be able to coexist. Telling that story naturally and effectively was a challenge, but they managed to pull it off.
Of course, at the end of the day this is still a Planet of the Apes film and that means we need some action sequences and some intensity. Reeves delivers on both accounts, setting up dramatic confrontations that never end well for anyone involved. These sequences are sprinkled throughout and keep the film rolling from one beat to another. Even if you can’t buy into the story, you should be able to appreciate the excitement of the events.
Neither Dawn nor Rise would have succeeded without the extraordinary performance of Andy Serkis. Or should I say, Andy Serkis and the CGI team that completed Caesar. It’s important that the audience relate to Caesar and his apes and Serkis gives him just enough humanity for everyone to start to root for him. This is not a movie about animals attacking humans, this is a movie about humans battling a human-like animal. But that’s not possible without the skills of Andy Serkis.
4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: Virtually everything mentioned in my review of the RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES 4K UHD Blu-ray Review (click the link to read my review) holds true with DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, with the possible exception that Dawn looks a little more crisp. The CGI is definitely improved, which is a good thing since we have a lot more apes and a lot more CGI. The 4K of Dawn will of course give you the nominal upgrade in detail and color definition thanks to the HDR, but the improvements are subtle. Unlike with Rise, there are a lot more dimly lit scenes in Rise and the 4K and HDR do give some improvements that look nice with the improved definition. Overall, there are some improvements over the Blu-ray, but they’re not going to jump out at you and I would save the upgrade only for fans of the film.
Audio: The included DTS track is the same one found on the Blu-ray, which is disappointing.
This title was reviewed using a Samsung UBD-K8500 with a Sony XBR75X850C TV.
The 4K UHD does not contain any exclusive features, but it does include a Blu-ray of the film, which you can read by clicking DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES Blu-ray Review.