Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is undeniably impressive.
The CGI and the action setpieces in Matt Reeves' (Cloverfield, Let Me In) film are as good as any blockbuster release of 2014 and should be seen in theaters for that sole reason. However, this is mostly just the kind of hollywood blockbuster the summer masses are accustomed to.
In Nolan-esque vain, this film tries to balance real world consequences and monkeys with human intellect. This realism is the best part of the film and it truly feels like a possibility of what could happen. I mean, you know, if monkeys were given a gas that made them as smart as humans or something like that. Nearly every decision, from man or ape, makes sense; there is sound logic behind everyone's thought process. A lot of intensity is brought on by the tension between humans and apes, a tension that builds even more now that the apes can speak. Even though both sides can understand and speak in english it seems nearly impossible for the two to communicate. They essentially cannot live together. Neither man nor ape know the other to be their equal; humans will not live with apes because they never had to and apes will not live with humans because their years of captivity and use as test subjects have led them to hate man. The script explores this idea in depth and it permeates throughout the movie.
However, the writing is not perfect, the writing team of Mark Bomback, Rick Jaffa, and Amanda Silver ultimately provide the weak link of the movie. The worst offense is the sluggish pace; the film is bogged down by a very dull first half. There is very little in the movie that is not telegraphed in advance and nothing is really surprising or left in doubt. Everyone in the audience should know what is going to happen next and the film loses suspense.The film also seems to be walking in place. We know the beginning and end of the story and are only left in doubt by what happens in between. Because of this it feels as if the writing team is trying eek whatever it can out of this timeframe.
So, go see Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Just don't expect it to necessarily be a "smart" summer blockbuster that has become the big selling point of this movie and its predecessor. The reason to see this movie is the same as most blockbusters. Spectacle. The script isn't Transformers bad, but it isn't much better. But the action? The action set pieces directed by Reeves are spectacular and some of the best of the year so far.
Also, I can not stand when movies that go for extreme realism feature stupid happenstances. The band of ape-loving humans just happen to take Caesar to refuge in the James Franco character's house from Rise of the Planet of the Apes and the ape that Jason Clarke's character happens to come across during the main fight near the end is Caesar's son. Dumb. That is all. Oh, also Carver is horrible.