‘Who are the real animals?’ film predictably asks.
It would seem reasonable to expect a sequel to be similar in tone, style and story to the original. That is not the case here. Think Alien and Aliens and you have a good idea of the shift in mood and action from Rise of the Planet of Apes to it’s successor.
It is a bold move to push the story forward ten years within which most of the human race has been wiped out by simian flu or war. That period could have been a stand alone film by itself. So we find the apes still led by Ceasar but now they are just chatting away like it ain’t no thang. There is nothing to rival the heart stopping moment in Rise when Ceasar first speaks but there is absolutely no denying that the CGI here is incredible. At no point in the film do you doubt that this is real. We are talking about goddamn dirty apes riding horses here. That is some achievement.
As we know though CGI alone does not make a movie (Clash of the Titans, Transformers) but luckily there is loads of great stuff going on here. The ape characters really are superbly written and the grudging rivalry between Ceasar and Koba is one of the more compelling movie relationships in recent years. The story is solid if predictable and unoriginal but it is just a platform to allow director Matt Reeves showcase some astonishing sequences between our primate brothers.
The only downside is that the human characters are not as well sketched and end up very much supporting players. Gary Oldman doesn’t bring a great deal to the table and his supporting human cast are forgettable. While the action slows down without an ape on screen and it is not as good as the film that preceded it there is still more than enough to make this a worthy sequel.