Even though Dawn of the Planet of the Apes doesn’t hit theaters until July 11, positive early reviews are leading box office prognosticators to predict it will have an incredibly successful opening weekend. Variety has stated that experts are anticipating a $54.8 million debut, while BoxOffice.com predicts the sequel to 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes will make closer to $70 million.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes takes place 10 years after its predecessor. A global virus has crippled the human population, but Caesar and his army of hyper-intelligent apes has grown even stronger and has built a functioning society in the woods of California’s Bay Area. Humans stumble upon the apes’ community, and war breaks out.
Despite Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, and Keri Russell starring as the film’s human cast, it is Andy Serkis’ Caesar and the CGI apes that are receiving the most praise.
“Few blockbusters this summer are likely to provide an image as stirring as an angry chimp on horseback, leaping through a wall of fire with a machine gun blazing in each hand — in 3D,” wrote The Guardian in their review of the film. “Both the forest settings and post-apocalyptic San Francisco are rich in detail and atmosphere, the action sequences are thrilling without being flashy, and the apes themselves are uncannily expressive, particularly their eyes…We’ve arrived at the stage where the soulful expression on the face of a virtual chimp can conjure more sympathy than a real, emoting human.”
The Hollywood Reporter writes that “Andy Serkis gives the most expressive, soulful, deeply felt performance of a non-human character the big screen has ever offered as the mature Caesar.” They also applauded the sequel’s director, stating that “Matt Reeves’ synthesis of brains and brawn kicks it over the goalposts and out of the stadium.”
HitFix’s Drew McWeeny also praised Reeves’ direction and digital expertise writing, “It’s one thing to pull off one or two characters like this, but…to bring to life dozens of characters, and to have them all register as fully as they do here, is a remarkable accomplishment. Add to that the idea that so much of this was shot outside, on real locations, and you end up with something that destroys any boundaries in terms of what can or can’t be done at this point.”
McWeeny went on to write that the film is one that “digs deep, that challenges not only the notion of what a studio blockbuster looks like but also how sequels are supposed to work in a commercial world, a movie about real ideas with a spectacular sense of character and mood.”