reviewed by Elvin Jones
War has begun!
War was declared on the box office by Caesar, the highly intelligent ape from Rise of the Planet of the Apes, leading his family and fellow apes back into action in the sequel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, facing off this time against a band of humans, trying to survive in a world ravaged by a virus that has wiped out most of the human population.

Amazing, emotional, family, surviving

The apes – the ape effects have come a long way since Rise.
Very realistic brought out even more with 3D.
Human cast – a cast that overall had newcomers and those that might not be household names, with the exception of Gary Oldman. Didn’t distract from the apes story.
Caesar – worthy of his namesake.  As great a father as he is a leader.
Koba – for him to be a villain, and an ape I felt was done very well.
Communication – although the apes can speak somewhat, they mainly communicate via sign language, but the spoken words are used at just the right time to convey extra meaning.
The battles – when apes go hard, they really go hard

Gary Oldman’s screentime – I admit I really struggled to find something wrong with this movie. I will say if you are going to have someone of Oldman’s talent in a great movie, he could have been involved in it a bit more for my tastes

Set ten years after Rise, we see the result of the worldwide Simian flu that eradicated most of the human population.  Caesar, who led the newly freed apes into the forest at the end of Rise, now leads a thriving community of apes, living in complete peace unaware of what is going on in the outside world, believing that humans have finally died out.  A chance encounter with a group of survivors led by Malcom (Jason Clarke) forces Caesar to make the massive ape presence known to a community of survivors in San Francisco, led by Dreyfus (Oldman).  An uneasy truce between the groups leads to tension with the apes as well as the humans and despite Caesar wanting peace and no war, it’s only a matter of time before war begins.

Family, and what you would do or sacrifice for their survival.  And not just talking about humans.  At this point Caesar is now a father, with an older son and a newborn baby and wife to protect, along with the well being of his fellow apes.  On the other hand you have Malcolm who has a family of his own (Keri Russell as his “wife” and a teenage son too).  While this group of humans was immune to the virus and manages to survive they are running out of time and resources and desperately needs power that can be provided by a dam within the apes territory.  As much as Caesar wants to keep his family safe, so does Malcolm and its on that level where they are ultimately able to bond.

I think it also speaks a lot about what goes on in the world.  You have the ape nation and the human nation, so to speak.  Caesar has kept his group separate but when the door is opened to relations, while hesitant at first, he thinks the two groups can coexist.  On the flip side you have Dreyfus as the human leader who believes we can’t work with apes and that humans must take what they need by any means necessary, even if it means death to all the apes.  Each side has a counter voice, with Koba the ape preaching war and loyalty to apes to Caesar, while Malcolm tries to be the voice of reason to Dreyfus.  How many conflicts in the history of our world have been started because one group wanted something that another had and rather than work towards a mutual agreement, felt the only course of action was war to take it.

Very little I could find wrong with it.  The movie is about the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and while humans are a part of it, I felt like the focus was mostly on the apes as it should have been.  The apes and their storylines were relatable.  Things that we as humans experience.  Family, friendships, disagreements, teenagers rebelling, but seen through the eyes of apes.  Perfect cast that didn’t overshadow the apes.  Excellent visuals, (highly recommend seeing it in 3D), good pace and amount of action.  Not too long or too short.  It reminds you of any good story where you watch a leader really become something more than that.  And yes there is almost certainly a sequel in the works.  I thought that Rise was a decent movie and definitely a step up from the Mark Walberg Planet of the Apes, but Dawn has really taken the franchise to a whole new level.  


3.5 out of 4



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