5 October 2014 | bob the moo
Well meaning, but a bit too full of its own importance, becoming a bit heavy and ponderous in the process
I had enjoyed the first film in what I guess is the modern version of the PotA franchise, so I was quite looking forward to this second film. The plot jumps quite some time ahead, to find mankind surviving in small bands following the outbreak of a virus around a decade ago. Meanwhile Caesar has established a community deep in the woods, founded off the survivors of the battle on the Golden Gate bridge. When a group of men ventures into the woods looking for an old dam in the hope of getting power to their community, it tests trust and loyalty within both camps.
As the title suggests, this is the point where the Apes start to develop rather than just survive, and as such it holds a key point in the series; unfortunately this is something that the film very much feels and as a result it carries itself much more seriously than it can bear. The base elements of the plot are all well and good, with a narrative that expands on war, peace, trust, fear and aggression in a way that balances the apes and humans pretty well. The problem is not that it does this, but that it carries it all too heavily, producing a rather ponderous tone that sees the delivery imbued with too much weight, with all the characters and every line seeming to be aware of the import which it has. This robs it of flow and naturalism, both of which it could have done with.
When the action comes, it carries this same weight. It provides plenty of good moments but again there is the constant sense of importance and darkness about it – so there is nothing that really rivals the Golden Gate Bridge sequence for spectacle and tension. In terms of the technical side of things, it is hard to fault the film, and the motion-capture performances really feed back into the effects to produce more than just impressive computer generated effects. Performances from Serkis and Kebbell are both very good, and it is shame therefore that Clarke is as stiff as a board and Oldman mostly wasted with little to actually do. The rest of the cast are the same – the humans seems overly labored while the apes are generally better.
It is not a bad film by any means, and there is a lot to like about it, even if a lot of this is what it could have been rather than what it is. The weight it carries is evident, so it doesn't just deliver an epic plot, it feels that it is doing that, in every word and scene. This stifles it, making it feel ponderous and too self- aware, which is a shame because there are a couple of very good performances in here, and a lot of impressive effects work.