DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
Rise of the Planet of the Apes was a good film examining the relationships of humans to animals, mostly used for experimentation, and how the genetically altered apes rose to power, specifically Caesar (Andy Serkis), who was raised by humans and started a rebellion in protest to the treatment of apes.
This film picks up where Rise left off. Starting with montages of what happened after the rebellion, the declination of the country which appears somewhat apocalyptic and the aftermath of the ape rebellion. The apes have established their own world, living in peace amongst themselves, away from the remaining humans who are being wiped out by a strange virus known as the simian flu. Caesar is the leader and strangely enough, the ape world closely resembles the human world with politics, class hierarchy, education and reform.
Nearby in the ruins of a city lives a small group of survivors led by Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) who sends out a scouting party to find the abandoned dam hydroelectric station in an attempt to restore power. The scouting party includes Malcom and Ellie (Jason Clarke and Keri Russell) among others, who encounter a band of apes and are captured. Koba (Toby Kebbell), Caesar’s best friend (rescued by Caesar from the genetic testing lab) hates and distrusts humans and believes humans are the enemy and should be killed. Malcolm explains that they need to reach the hydroelectric station and want peace, not war.
There are echoes of the age old stories of good vs. evil, hate vs. love, Cain vs. Abel, Caesar vs, Mark Anthony, and betrayal vs. loyalty. The conflicted themes imbue this film with entertaining and educational storylines that prompts us to examine our lives and the issues currently headlining the news, race riots. The battle here is a race riot, humans vs. apes, and the challenges the leader faces to maintain peace while being sympathetic to the circumstances of their purported enemies. Caesar is betrayed by Koba, and cautiously befriends Malcolm, Ellie and their son, helping them to get power restored after Ellie, a doctor, saves Caesar’s wife from an illness.
The joy of this film lies in the lessons learned as we witness through fiction what pervades our daily lives without being preachy. Matt Reeves directs this film with exquisite visual detail, superb visual and special effects and expressivity of nonverbal communication. The realism of the apes and their facial expressions is amazing. The action and fighting sequences provides us with hair-raising thrills enticing us to root for a victor but leaving the decision of who to root for up to us. In the end it’s Caesar who must decide how to reign and how secure the tribe’s survival.
Dawn suggests another sequel. Should we imagine hope for the future or the collapse of civilization?
Starring: Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell
Director: Matt Reeves
Company: 20th Century Fox
Now Showing: DVD, VOD
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (violence, strong language)