Dawn of the Planet of The Apes

Director: Matt Reeves (2014)

Few creatures are more terrifying than an angry ape with a grudge and a gun – and this spectacular sci-fi epic has a forest full of them.

It pits ape against human and each against their own kind in a series of hugely exciting battles.

The movie is also majestic to look at and the intelligent script touches on issues such as an energy-supply crisis and how the treatment of prisoners can lead to radicalisation.

It is ten years since super-intelligent chimp Caesar (Andy Serkis) escaped to the Californian forest.

His species has developed art, architecture and a peaceful society while a virus has devastated human civilisation.

In a sly nod to George Orwell’s Animal Farm, the apes have rules marked on to a wall. No1 is: “Ape does not kill ape.”

Human survivor Malcolm (Jason Clarke) leads a recce into the apes’ domain looking to kickstart a hydro-electric dam.

There’s a bloody stand-off and in a desperate attempt to avoid more violence, Malcolm and Caesar tiptoe to a tentative truce.

In San Francisco, Dreyfuss (Gary Oldman) gives Malcolm three days to succeed or he’ll use his arsenal to annihilate the apes.

Meanwhile, the brutal Koba (Toby Kebbell) plots to overthrow Caesar, isolate his son Blue Eyes (Nick Thurston) and make war on humans.

Serkis is brilliant as Caesar. With his heavy brow and slow deliberations he echoes Marlon Brando in The Godfather – but with added teeth and muscle.

Director Reeves cleverly uses long edits to create tension and put the audience at the very centre of the action such as when an ape on horseback attacks a tank.

Marvellous visuals, engaging performances and dramatic plot twists made this one of the action movies of 2014.

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