As Dawn of Planet of the Apes opens, we learn Simian Flu has all but obliterated the human population on earth. This is the much anticipated Planet of the Apes sequel to 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Through a discussion between Caesar (Andy Serkis) and Maurice (Karin Konoval), we learn that it has been ten years since the humans and apes have last had interactions and two years since humans were last seen. In this time, Caesar and his followers have built their civilization in the wilderness, stressing community and respect for each other’s lives. During a shot that scans the Ape colony, “Ape not kill ape” is written on the school wall, reinforcing that belief.
Of course, the humans are not gone for good. They have been creating their own civilization in a building, later called the Human Tower, in downtown San Francisco. While genetically immune to Simian Flu, they have other problems: Are there others left in other cities? What happens when the power supply runs out? Will the nearby apes, who have been angered by a human attack, retaliate? Malcolm (Jason Clarke) volunteers to ask Caesar for permission to access a dam in the Ape colony to restore power, and the two begin to forge a bond of trust between humans and apes. However, when Koba (Toby Kebbell) lets his mistrust of humans and lust for power get the better of him, mayhem and battle ensue.
Planet of the Apes Sequel – “Fantastic” and “Beautiful”
First off, the details in this movie are fantastic. The nature scenes are beautiful, and the Ape colony is well designed. I enjoyed watching nature take over civilization, as evidenced when the apes pass a 76 station covered in vines on their way back from a hunting trip. I also enjoyed the juxtaposition of the Ape colony and the Human civilization and how the film builds up similarities and differences between the two populations. For example, when Caesar has something to say, he raises his hand and the colony get s quiet. When Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) tries to speak, he needs a megaphone to get the crowd’s attention.
The apes do not speak for the entire movie but use a mixture of speaking and signing. This creates some great moments as the actors, ape and sometimes human alike, had to rely on gestures or facial expressions to convey emotion/ intent. In fact, many of the relationship building moments rely on these gestures. The pacing is also good. This little Planet of the Apes sequel runs 130 minutes, but it didn’t seem like we were in the theater that long.
For the most part, the battle scenes were not drawn out to the point that they became boring. There was one moment where I did roll my eyes a bit thinking “Of course they had to knock that down, too.” There were also a few moments in the scripting which were a bit heavy handed. For example , the humans show up right after Maurice and Ceaser talk about them being gone, and we get a couple shots of Ceaser’s son looking pensive before he makes a big decision. I also felt that there could have been a little more development of Koba’s character but he was still developed well enough that his actions didn’t seem jarring.
Planet of the Apes Sequel – “Go see it.”
In all, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is an entertaining couple of hours. Well paced, beautifully shot, and well acted. Go see it. In 3D, if possible.