Kurt Loder Reviews Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

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Twentieth Century Fox

Kurt Loder reviews Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and writes that the movie's central effect—of narrative balance and cohesion—is a distinctive accomplishment by director Reeves, who demonstrated how much could be done with a very low budget in the 2008 monster flick Cloverfield. Here, most admirably, he never gets carried away by the boatloads of money he's been given. Even the setpiece action scenes—a hurtling battle involving the apes Caesar and Koba, a ferocious assault on the humans' massively walled urban redoubt—are tightly controlled; they never go on longer than they should. And they're deftly punctuated with flourishes of humor (what would happen if a warrior ape got hold of a tank?). The movie's blend of spectacular digital effects and actual ideas is a stirring achievement, and Serkis' career-best performance elevates the picture to a level of rare emotional complexity. If only more big summer movies were this smart.

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