‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: The Art of the Films’ Review

Get an indepth look behind the scenes that went into the production of the blockbuster movies ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ and its sequel ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.’


Note: The following review goes into some detail about the movies. SPOILER ALERT!

It should go without saying now that the new Planet of the Apes franchise that was launched in 2011 has been soaring with flying colors critically and financially, especially when compared to the mixed reviews that Tim Burton’s attempted reboot in 2001 received. Aside from having a bit of a different spin on the story that has been well received, the films have also showcased some of the best motion capture work in cinema, largely in part thanks to the work of Andy Serkis and the amazing team at Weta Digital. With that being said, any fan of the film franchise or film production is going to want to swing headfirst into this collection that has been put forward by Matt Hurwitz, Sharon Gosling, and Adam Newell. With there being a vast majority of insight from the directors Matt Reeves and Rupert Wyatt on concepts that went behind shot selections and how different special effects and scenes were built up, this is no ordinary artbook.

The physical book itself has a heavy and great overall quality feel to it, with a multi-textured cover and spine of Caesar from the newest installment in the series. Starting off with an introduction written by Matt Reeves himself, the forward gives the reader an insight as to just how invested he is into the franchise even though he was hopping onto it in the sequel. The introduction then transitions to a recollection done by the first film’s director, Rupert Wyatt, and Andy Serkis highlights events such as the casting process and their first read of the script. Discussion continues on how they were about to step to the great challenge of capturing performances for digital characters in a non-green screened environment, but rather in a more standardized movie set.


The opening look into the first film starts with the production that went behind the GEN SYS facility that was the laboratory that housed the apes and where James Franco’s character Will creates the ALZ-112 virus. In these opening pages is where we first get a look at the work done by Claude Paré, the production designer behind the film. His original concepts are compared to actual shots from the film, showcasing how well he was able to pinpoint the vision that director Matt Reeves originally had in mind. This is continually showcased throughout the first half of the book with closer examinations that went behind the primate shelter, Will’s home, the battle on the Golden Gate Bridge, and the ending scenes in the forrest. The first part of the book closes out with concepts that went behind the poster design and advertisement of the film and ends with a nice infographic on the Simian Flu that becomes a worldwide epidemic.

The second half of the book is in the vein of the first but in the best way possible. If you haven’t seen Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, there are a plethora of fantastic shots that make up the film. It all showcases advanced CGI and set design. This look at the concept art compared to the real shots from the film gives you a new level of appreciation for not only the film itself, but the production and effort that went behind it. Another thing that the Dawn portion of the books does well is showcase the construction of the sets, and pieces such as the Ape Village and Caesar’s perch and throne.


If you’re a fan of art books, film, and production, this is a sure pick up for you. Filling pages with a large amount of high quality and aesthetically pleasing images and works of art, Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of Planet of the Apes: The Art of the Films provides a vast amount of insight into the hit series that would otherwise be available to few, or at a later time. The balance between interviews, excerpts, recollections, concept art, and set photography is done just right, ensuring that this isn’t an artbook that you’ll flip through the pages once, but find yourself rereading and examining with a newfound perspective and appreciation for the newly rebooted film franchise.

Have you gotten a chance to check out ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ yet? Did you enjoy it, and are you thinking about picking up the art book? Let us know in the comments below.


*This review of Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of Planet of the Apes: The Art of the Films is based on a physical copy of the art book provided by Titan Books.

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