Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes 4KIf the year 2011 taught us nothing but the fact that good things can come from rebooting a beloved franchise, then I’d be alright to call it a day right here and now.  Never in my wildest dreams could I have ever conjured up such a crazy notion that the quirky Planet of the Apes franchise could ever be resurrected after that feeble attempt by Tim Burton (I really wish they could have went through with the Adam Rifkin script) way back in the summer of 2001 before our economy took a crap and I have been broke ever since because of low interest rates.  However, I digress.  We are not here to discuss our nation’s economy because if the fictional ape character of Caesar was real, I have no doubts that it would thrive once again under his direction.  All hail Caesar, right?  Exactly!  That’s exactly the sentimentality I want you all to have over the course of the next five minutes or so as I impregnate your mind with a world dominated by apes, or at least on the cusp of that becoming a reality in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (Blu-ray Review)


So if you are good with math and you count/recognize 2001’s “re-imagining,” then that would make Dawn of the Planet of the Apes the eighth film in the franchise so to speak, but very much a sequel to the superior 2011 Rise of the Planet of the Apes.  I couldn’t say enough good things about the 2011 film here, but fret not because that streak of praise continues here in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, which I’ll lovingly abbreviate as DOTPOTA from here on out within the remainder of this review.  I guess the first thing we should point out here is that there’s a new sheriff in town (referring to the director helming the picture) as well as some new faces (referring to the cast) to the franchise.  So let’s start with them before talking plot.

Matt Reeves (CloverfieldLet Me In) won the coveted position here as director and along with that all the attached strings that we’ll talk about in a little more detail down below.  The brilliant Andy Serkis has come back to reprise his performance capture role as Caesar and a handful of other apes.  Sadly, the talents of James Franco (with the exception of some props and a very quick flashback) and the beautiful Freida Pinto do not return for this sequel, but instead we welcome the fresh and familiar faces of Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell and Kodi Smit-McPhee.  Now I don’t know about you, but those names make me happy even though we don’t get the Freida eye candy this time out.  I can sacrifice and live without when I need to.  Sorry Freida.

So even though DOTPOTA opens up some ten years after the fateful and historic events of the first film where man and ape went their separate ways on the bridge and that pesky ALZ-113 virus Franco’s character in the first film cooked up has caused quite the global pandemic of sorts, I honestly feel like I did not miss a beat.  I welcome Caesar and his extended ape family back into my world again with arms wide open and instantly felt right at home as we go frolicking through the woods on a fast paced hunt for food.  Everything seems grand in their ape world they have devised.  It has been a long time since they seen any sight of mankind.  Could the world’s homo sapien population truly be extinct?  Not so fast cat!  Something has to ignite this war and uprising of the apes.  Why not the presence and resurgence of mankind into the apes’ lives?  I couldn’t think of a better way to stir the pot could you?  We humans seem to screw everything up in the world any way, but luckily for us there’s more than meets the eye.  As an effective leader, Caesar must come to terms with the fact that not only does he have to beware of the pesky humans, but he must also be mindful of what’s going down in his own house.  When you see how many apes there really are,  you’ll realize what I just said is no easy tasks, rather it seems almost impossible.  However, I’m getting ahead of myself here.

Over the past ten years (think back to the original franchise) the apes have kind of developed their own code, let’s call them for lack of a better term “laws.”  Ape shall not kill ape is the most important one to remember here.  Apes are a family unlike the humans who have destroyed themselves with the virus some ten years ago.  It’s that very same virus that makes me feel so sorry for James Franco’s character back then.  Here you have this man whose sole goal in life was to develop a cure for Alzheimer’s to help cure his father and he ends up nearly wiping out the human race.  The irony there is so tragic and sad, don’t you think?   Now fast forward ten years and man is all but forgotten and the apes foolishly think they know it all.  It’s like that old Megadeth song, “I Thought I Knew it All.”  That’s what Caesar thinks too.  He embodies all the characteristics of an effective leader and everyone looks up to him, but will his compassion for the human race be his ultimate undoing?  Will he risk everything to save his ape family?  Will his own beliefs in apes first and laws come back to haunt him?  Rest assured, these questions and so many more are answered in DOTPOTA, but the film is SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT!  It’s bigger than just these questions and not just because we are talking about apes and their preconceived stature.

Make no doubt about it DOTPOTA is about the apes.  They are the main characters.  It feels weird saying this and it may take you some time to come to grips with this while checking this one out, but it’s true.  Did you ever see the day coming when you would be forced to sympathize and ultimately empathize with that of a motion captured character?  I knew this day was coming, but up until 2011 (outside of cartoons and Pixar films) I kind of lived in denial.  Then Caesar entered my life coupled with such memorable characters (yes I am saying memorable in regards to motion performance captured characters) as Maurice, Rocket and of course who can forget Koba?  However, the point I’m trying to get across here in this paragraph is the fact that DOTPOTA is also about the human connection, not only the bond between that of the apes and man, but that of their own respective families.  Caesar has a family now in this one and so does that of newcomer Jason Clarke and his onscreen human family.  They both have younger sons who are coming to age within their respective roles in the family and ultimately their place in society, ape’s and mankind’s.  It’s quite an interesting character study to see a coming of age story from two distinct points of view regardless of race or species.  You picking up what I’m dropping here?

Truth be told, I kind of hate reviewing movies like this that I love because I honestly feel that I could throw every big, educated word at you and ramble on and on, but nothing I feel I will say will ever equate to how powerful this feature is and nor do I feel I can do it justice with just my mere mortal vocabulary.  It’s engaging, rampaging, heartwarming, tear jerking and most importantly to some, very nostalgic to the hardcore Apes fans.  You’re going to notice some very familiar musical cues in this one, Apes fans.  But that’s only the half of it.  When you think how far we have come since the quirkiness of the classic Escape From Planet of the Apes and the way the filmmakers are able to interject that vibe while making things so lifelike in the way they register and hit home with you, it’s simply amazing in my opinion.  I truly never thought I could ever feel this way about a Planet of the Apes reboot, but gosh darn it, there is a God.  No, his name is not Caesar.  LOL.  However, rest assured there are movie gods that still exist that are able to take old franchises like this, resurrect them and make them into something awe-inspiring and powerful as they turn things completely over.  And wow!  I have not even talked about the performances, exciting action sequences or even Matt Reeves yet!

So let’s talk about all of that here.  I think it goes without saying that Andy Serkis is perfect in all his roles throughout DOTPOTA, but what of Jason Clarke and gang?  Ah.  Come on!  Did you really think Jason Clarke was going to let us down?  Hell no!  The whole cast of human actors hit a home run here.  You can pretty much count on Gary Oldman to be spot on in all he does, but I was pleasantly surprised how well Keri and Kodi fit in too and interact with the performance capture artists such as Andy the rest of his very small entourage.  Things have come a long way since the days of the stiff awkward performances of Ewan and Natalie in the Star Wars prequels, but I digress.  Perhaps that was more George Lucas’ writing and direction more than anything else, huh?  LOL.  And yes, the action sequences in here are quite spectacular and at times something really to write home about.  It was interesting to hear Matt Reeves talk about it and how the performance capture artists were all on ladders when onscreen they were really on horses.  Oh I mentioned I was going to chat a little bit about Matt Reeves, didn’t I?  Did I forget to mention I saw this movie theatrically with Matt Reeves, Gary Oldman and Andy Serkis in attendance with a complete Q&A afterwards?  Oops.  I guess I forgot to mention that.  Now might be a good time to segue into a paragraph about Matt Reeves then, huh?

I’ve been a fan of Matt Reeves for some time now, but after meeting the guy (oh yeah I forgot to tell you all that we all got the chance to meet the three men and have them sign a poster for us) I have a newfound respect for him.  He’s just so kind, humble, down to earth and is able to remarkably handle stress well.  My jaw hit the ground when he recounted the tale of how he got the job.  He said he went into the meeting for the gig and pitched his idea of how he thought the sequel should be even though there was already a written script.  They loved what he had to say and told him he had the job.  Thinking that was way too easy, Matt said great, but what’s the catch?  LOL.  The catch was the fact that he had to be ready to shoot in 2.5 months.  Holy crap!  Did you see the film I’m writing about here?  It’s every bit as good as an Empire Strikes Back and employs so much CG and stunts and you’re saying I only have two and a half months to finalize the script and get everything ready to shoot?  Did I hear you right?  I’ll say it again.  Holy crap!  If there’s anybody that should be running this country, it should be Matt Reeves.  I’m kidding.  LOL.  But wow!  How that man can handle that stress and still have a full head of brown hair is beyond me. I bow down to Matt Reeves and look forward with the utmost of anticipation of whatever he delivers next.

So yes…I was bold and egotistical when I made that Empire Strikes Back comparison up above, but I meant it.  I really did.  In my opinion, the film had three main mission objectives to conquer and overcome.  It had to overcome the doomed and dreaded sophomore slump.  Check.  It did!  It even managed to improve upon the first film and build upon a mythology that I’m excited to see more of in the third one.  It had to keep you riveted and tension filled for nearly two hours.  Check!  It easily did that with the battle sequences and tension filled standoffs alone.  It also had to have a profound story and hit home with a deep-seated statement about our human civilization despite the fact that we are watching apes onscreen.  Somebody give me the check please!  These three objectives were squashed by Matt Reeeves, all the writers who worked on this and by the brilliant performances of the cast coupled with the hardworking supporting crew they had here.  I don’t care whether they were human or apes, Matt and his team made me so attached to all the characters here, I did not want to see any of them die.  When you can form an emotional bond with an onscreen “animated” orangutan, then you know you have some special here.  My proverbial hat is off to you, Matt and Andy.

War is coming!  Whose side are you on?  Hail Caesar!

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes


The below video score and related critique of things here are based solely upon my viewing of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presentation of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.  The 1080p presentation of the film was formerly reviewed here.  In my opinion this 4K presentation is only a minor upgrade over the 1080p one.

  • Encoding: HEVC / H.265
  • Resolution: 4K (2160p)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Clarity/Detail:  The detail, for the most part here is amazing from the ivy littering the buildings to the puddles that are so real looking you just want to drink from them.  Every strand of fur and crack on the apes’ faces is visible throughout.   It’s a very nice uptick in detail here despite being only a 2K DI.  This one unlike Rise of the Planet of the Apes was shot digitally.  Due to the uptick though some of the apes do look a little artificial, but nothing that will take your mind out of the believability game.
  • Depth:  Things look pretty fantastic here as well considering you have approximately 800 apes on the screen at one time more often than not.  Now with that being said, the depth of field is very impressive three-dimensionally when all the apes gather.  Most remarkable are the shots down the city streets in Louisiana where they just seem to traverse on forever into the distance, hunting in the vast wilderness, looking off the Golden Gate Bridge and more.
  • Black Levels:  The black levels are a little deeper here than the Blu-ray release in my opinion.  Things have a more natural look to them all here.  However, still pay close attention to the tight quarters in the dam scenes and you’ll still have that washed out look to things.  Not every dark scene screams hey look I used HDR.  In particular I’m referring to the scene where Clarke and Oldman discuss plans of what to do.  Their faces are still shrouded in darkness.  There’s more to discuss, but you get the picture.
  • Color Reproduction:  The color levels are a bit murky and dark here to match the post-apocolyptic times, but there are the vegetative greens in the forest, in particular the moss on the trees.  Those signs of life continue to impress me here in 4K.
  • Flesh Tones:  Skin tones can be dull at times, but for the most part they are lifelike and natural throughout.
  • Noise/Artifacts:  I have absolutely nothing negative to say in this section.  There’s no pesky noise, specs, debris or anything else that would hinder your enjoyment of this 4K Ultra HD presentation.  Enjoy!

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes


Like I mentioned up above in the video section, the below audio score and critical comments of such are based solely upon my viewing of Paramount’s 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presentation of Paramount’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.  Unfortunately though there’s nothing new to add here as it’s the same surround track found on the original Blu-ray release.

  • Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, English Descriptive Audio 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French DTS 5.1
  • Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
  • Dynamics:  It’s the little things that nail it for me here like the serene and ambient moments of the forest at times to all the other sounds that just bring this track to life to make you sound like you’re actually in the middle of a forest-like environment.  The action sequences are also bar none here too, but I think you get the picture already.  It’s like actually being in the forest here with with all the authentic pans and whatnot, but best of all no dialogue gets lost in the shuffle.
  • Low Frequency Extension:  The bass goes BOOM, BOOM, BOOM here throughout with examples such as thunder, stampede of elk during the hunting and gathering opening scenes, Caesar’s forceful voice, gunshots blasting, explosions in the water dam, roar of a wild bear, drums in the score, apes on horseback and who can forget that skyscraper scaffolding ending, huh?  Do I need to go on?
  • Surround Sound Presentation:  Equally impressive here is the surround sound presentation.  There are things going on around you all the time here from bullets ricocheting to rain pouring down behind you and monkeys swinging from tree to tree.  Everything is brilliantly in check here with a sense of directionality.   Furthermore, we  have rain, thunder, monkey noises, birds chirping, sirens and so much more.
  • Dialogue Reproduction:  The dialogue for me is always clear and intelligible throughout making it an enjoyable viewing experience where I never had to strain, even during moments of whisper, to hear what was being said.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes


With almost two hours of special features plus an audio commentary with Director Matt Reeves, the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Blu-ray included in this 4K Ultra HD set definitely doesn’t skimp on the extras and will no doubt make fans of the film very happy with their purchase here.  That much I am sure of.  This Blu-ray is jam-packed with behind-the-scenes footage and deleted scenes, including intimate interviews with Andy Serkis on how he masterfully created Caesar and inside looks at the secrets of the relationship between man and apes plus so much more.  And when I say more I mean more good stuff.  Even better than all of that, for all you mobile viewers of movies there’s also a redemption code here good for a Digital HD copy of the film, which can be used with either iTunes or UltraViolet.   In addition there’s another paper insert here containing a code which allows streaming of a sneak preview for the upcoming War for the Planet of the Apes (releases July 14, 2017).  So let’s take a closer look at everything you’ll find here and fill in some of the gaps about what it’s all about.

  • Deleted Scenes (HD, 4;34) – The following quick deleted scenes are brought to you with a Play All option as well as with the choice to select optional commentary by Matt Reeves: “Ape Ceremony,” “Entering the Dam” and “Camp Here.”
  • Journey to Dawn (Hd, 8:47) – The cast and crew talk about the success of the first film (mixed with past and current movie footage) and what the second one would bring to the universe as far as story goes.  Matt Reeves (love the bowties) talks about his infatuation with the original Apes films and I swear to God I can listen to him talk about anything.  The guy literally fascinates me.  Anyway, he talks about the growth of the apes here as their civilization rises and of course the story.  Serkis also chimes in here and talks about the strengths of Matt.  He genuinely loves working with the guy.  That much is also for sure.
  • Andy Serkis: Rediscovering Caesar (HD, 9:02) – This starts out with Keri Russell about her fears of how she was going to pull off this performance and in enters Andy.  Rest assured, once Keri met Andy she no longer had any fears.  Obviously Serkis starts chiming in here too and talks more about the story and the plight of…dun…dun…dah…Caesar!  Toby Kebbell, who portrays the motion capture of Koba, is scene behind-the-scenes here with Andy and talks about what it’s like working with Serkis too.  Andy also talks about the art of performance capture and how it’s so complex.
  • Humans and Apes: The Cast of Dawn (HD, 17:47) – This one starts out with my favorite actor here, Jason Clarke, and a behind-the-scenes look at when his character bravely went into the woods to seek out Caesar and ask him for his help.  I loved seeing how they produced the raining effect.  LOL.  You also get a glimpse of the actors on ladders, which later are replaced with horses of course.  It’s interesting to see how demanding this role was for Jason as he had to interact with no one at times. Things focus next on Toby and they talk about how he even studied chimps.  Reeves spends some time talking about how he wanted the humans in the story to be and that of Keri’s character and how much she would ground everything in reality.  And there’s plenty more here, but you can watch the rest, right?
  • The World of Dawn (HD, 14:31) – I have to admit it’s pretty cool seeing the “actual” world of Dawn out there in primal nature with the apes, complete with all the mud.  Interesting to me, they talk about the natural lighting of the movie and how 85% of the film was shot outside in the woods in Vancouver.  Matt talks about the real materials used in the sets to make it look authentic like it could really be built by apes in the woods.  It’s really nice to see everything is real here, even the moss!  Also to note, it was cool and very interesting to see how they shot in downtown New Orleans too, complete with booms…err I mean explosions!  They finished this featurette a power plant that doubles as the dam the humans were working on as well as the fashion employed throughout here (even Jason Clarke’s poncho) as it relates to naturalism and function.
  • The Ape Community (HD, 10:26) – This one looks in parallel at the apes civilization, how it’s almost tribal like, and compares it to our human race.  They did a lot of research as to how nature would reclaim the Earth and how a primitive society would evolve.  Pretty cool, huh?  Interesting to me, they examined here while writing the screenplay how much language would be spoken by the apes.  I love the thought put into this.  Bravo!
  • Move Like an Ape: An Artists Artist’s Medium (HD, 15:25) – I think this one is pretty self-explanatory by the title of the featurette, but nevertheless this is all about the authentic ways in which the apes move here.  The performance here is both in the face and the body as Terry Notary, who plays Rocket, takes us through practice to shooting.  He talks about how demanding this actually is from the physicality to mannerisms and culture, and that was just the six-week training.  LOL.  We also get to meet and see the entire ape team here.  It was interesting to see those arm extensions they all use in their performances and what they are used for.  Jason Chu walks us through some of the stunts here too.  Finally we also get to meet Karin Konoval, who plays the lovable the orangutan Maurice.  She said she based the character on three real orangutans.
  • Weta and Dawn (HD, 20:27) – This one takes us closeup to the makeup of the ape and its body.  A new camera was even built for this production, close to 100 cameras they said. So basically this one looks very closely at the composition of these apes, how they were created, how they were improved upon from the first film and basically an insiders look at the ways in which the apes come to life digitally here.  It’s quite amazing, especially when they show how the babies are filmed and the interaction with the onscreen human actors.  The actors were also riding real horses here, but there are CG horses of course.  Simply put, this featurette is absolutely amazing and I consider this a MUST-WATCH for anyone interested in learning how the apes were constructed and remarkably put into the real landscapes.
  • The Fight for a New Dawn (HD, 16:00) – This one starts off talking about the film’s final battle in the unfinished skyscraper, which is the one thing in the movie that was shot virtually on an empty stage because it would be too unsafe and impossible to film in a real location.  A lot of pre-visualizations are thrown around here as well as rehearsals.  In all honesty, this featurette is equally amazing as the one up above.  Sadly, it also looks at the “letting go of your best friend” aspect of the ending with the film’s composer.  An emotional score ruled everything in this film with the flirtation of experimentation paying homage to the original films.  We also explore here the musical themes as they differ from the apes to the humans.
  • Audio Commentary by Matt Reeves (HD) – This is the only extra ported over to the 4K UHD disc. Here’s all I’ll say here.  Wow!  This guy can talk!  He starts talking even before the movie studio and production company logos illuminate the screen.  It’s great to hear what a hardcore fan he is of the Apes franchise (old and new) plus of actors Oldman and Clarke.  I could go on and on about how cool this is to hear Matt recount the entire shoot, but I’ll leave that for you to experience.  Enjoy!
  • Gallery – There are a total of 4 galleries here: Concept ArtCharacters, Costumes and Props.
  • Theatrical Trailers (HD) – There are a total of three different theatrical trailers to be found here.
  • Sneak Peek of Exodus: Gods and Kings (HD) – Your choices here are “Play Sneak Peek” (2:14), which is a quick making-of with the crew and everyone involved mixed in with actual movie and filming footage and a “Play Teaser Trailer” (1:31).

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes


So there you have it folks.  With scores like these up above, coupled with one hell of an emotional tale and a slew of extras, how can you possibly go wrong here?  This is the MUST-OWN title for your slowly growing 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray collection!  Gary Oldman, Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke and Keri Russell all break down walls in this thrilling next chapter of The Planet of the Apes.   But let’s not forget about the apes.  The brilliant motion capture is what sets this apart from any that have come before.  Their “performances” are bar none.  Do you want further proof than just my mere words alone?  All the fans and critics can’t all be wrong, can they?  They flocked to the film, with The Hollywood Reporter raving that “In the annals of sequels, Dawn is to Rise of the Planet of the Apes what The Empire Strikes Back was to Star Wars—it’s that much better.“  Didn’t I say something to that effect up above?  You bet your spare keys I kid.  If you like what you have read, and how could you not, please help support our site by hitting up the order link down below.  Thanks!  I do apologize though about the horrible cover art.  That was not my doing.


DISCLAIMER: This 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray review was judged and graded using the following 4K certified Ultra HD Premium television set found here and player here.  Make sure to check out all our 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray reviews archived here.


Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Rises on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray

June 13th




Dawn of the Planet of the Apes 4K Blu-ray


Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

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