Movie Review: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

 

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The Planet of the Apes franchise has surely had it’s ups and downs. The original 1968 film is iconic. Charlton Heston and Roddy McDowall starred in the film that was based off of Pierre Boulle’s French novel of the same name. Then, four sequels and two television series followed that were average at best.

The series then sat stagnant until Tim Burton’s 2001 remake. The remake, starring Mark Wahlberg in the lead role, was a financial success but mixed reviews hindered a chance of a sequel. Then, ten years later, another reboot attempt was made with Rise of the Planet of the Apes. The movie, starring James Franco, John Lithgow, and Andy Serkis, was a success and finally gave Fox a movie to build from.

The sequel to that film was 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. The movie featured Andy Serkis returning as the central ape Caesar along with Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, and Keri Russell leading the surviving humans. The story picks up where “Rise” left off with the apes uniting and maintaining a civilization with the human population dwindling down.

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In “Dawn”, Caesar and his group of apes have been living together and creating their own environment with little to no human interaction. A simian flu has wiped out most of the human population. Then, humans are spotted and one of them shoots an ape. This leads to a confrontation and Caesar goes to a hideout in the ruins of San Francisco where the humans are living. He warns the humans to stay away or they will fight back. But, Malcolm (Clarke), Ellie (Russell), and few others believe they can restore power to the city if they can get the dam to work again.

Malcolm convinces Dreyfus (Oldman), the leader of the humans there, to let him talk to the apes and get this done peacefully. Malcolm agrees but if he doesn’t get it done in time, then they will attack the ape civilization. Meanwhile, Koba, an ape that resents humans for his prior mistreatment, doesn’t agree with Caesar working together with the humans. Koba goes to the San Francisco hideout and sees the human’s plentiful artillery. He reports this to Caesar and wants to attack the humans before they attack them. Caesar disagrees and this leads Koba to betray his leader.

An injured Caesar is aided back to health by Malcolm and Ellie. Meanwhile, Koba is preparing the apes for war and Dreyfus is doing the same with the humans. This leads to a battle between the two sides and the humans are eventually captured and taken as prisoners. But after regaining his strength, Caesar, his son, and a few other apes revolt against Koba and take back control of the ape population. But Dreyfus is set on destroying them and must be stopped by Malcolm. Malcolm wants to keep peace with the apes but Caesar knows that an army of humans has been contacted and is on the way to fight them off. Even though he does not want to, he knows that Koba started a war and, knowing he won’t get this army to believe him, he has to fight to defend his kind.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a really good movie. The movie took some risks and they paid off. First, a human is not seen until almost 15 minutes into the movie. Also, Gary Oldman was probably the most well-known actor in the film and he wasn’t even in the main human role. This movie relied a lot on other actors and the amazing job done to bring the apes to life. And it paid off.

“Dawn” gave me hope for a Planet of the Apes series to come. Personally, I think I still prefer “Rise” over this one, but not by much. But both are good and both are must-see movies for fans of the series. I just hope the series keeps getting better and gives the fans the series they have been waiting for.

Daryl Karpinski Jr.

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