Book Review: The Art of the Films: Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes by Sharon Gosling and Adam Newell

This book takes readers behind the scenes of the first two films of the revived Apes franchise, Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and reveals what Dawn director Matt Reeves describes in the Foreward is the “astonishing work” of the crewmembers. Led by Rise‘s production designer Claude Pare and director of photography Andrew Lesnie and Dawn‘s production designer James Chinlund and director of photography Michael Seresin, the combined imaginations and talents on each film created realistic locations and believable characters on screen.  The latter accomplishment also owes a debt to the Ape actors, especially Andy Serkis, who played Caesar. 

In the introduction, authors Gosling and Newell tell how Rise came to fruition through quotes from many of the participants, starting with screenwriters Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver and their pitch to the studio.  The book then takes readers to the same place the film’s story starts with early concept art of Gen Sys, “the laboratory complex where Will creates the ALZ-112 virus” that alters the apes and the film’s universe forever.  The book then progresses through the main locations and events, telling how they were created and what went into the process.  

Between the two sections about each film is what information from a faux pamphlet about Simian Flu, the disease responsible for killing humans and evolving apes.  The book then brings in the images and quotes from the cast and crew of Dawn and follows the same pattern of progressing through the film to the end.           

Although labeled “The Art of the Films,” the book looks more like the “Craft of” as many of the early computer-graphic mock-ups aren’t aesthetically pleasing on their own.  But that’s not to say it’s not an enjoyable for read for those fascinated by how movies are made.  The most intriguing material is the production stills of the actors portraying the apes, who don’t get enough credit for the work they’ve done.

Gordon S. Miller

Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of this site.

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