Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
This Planet of the Apes “reboot” series is an interesting animal. Its taken an old series which, lets face it, gets pretty corny by the last few movies, and has turned it into a deeper and more serious contemplation of the themes going on. And yet they don’t feel like they are going overboard and they still manage to give good homage to the films that came before.
Dawn sees the apes creating their own world now that humans have been wiped out by a deadly plague. Well, almost wiped out, and that’s where the conflict comes in. Now that they have found a band of humans, Caesar must decide how his ape tribe will respond, though war seems inevitable no matter what he does.
Just like Rise of the Apes was a loose remake of Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, Dawn bases its story on Battle for the Planet of the Apes, the fifth and final film in the original series. And lets face it, the story is pretty straight forward and easy to see where it goes. But what elevates this particular story is the communion in the ape society and how attached we get to these Simeon characters. Caesar of course is the strongest, but we also get attached to the apes around him like Maurice and Koba too.
There are some strong scenes in the film. It opens with a Dances with Wolves style hunting scene which was interesting. There’s also a major turning point in the plot in the ape village which works well. And my favourite scene is early on when Caesar leads the apes back into San Francisco as a show of strength. Powerful stuff there.
I know that this is probably just supposed to be considered a completely separate story, but its interesting to think of it as perhaps the true beginning of the Apes series. If you think about it, in the 3rd movie Cornelius and Zira go back in time and their son becomes the same Caesar who leads the uprising. But Caesar managed to find a peace between humans and apes, which indicates that that may have triggered a secondary timeline. So were these two newer movies perhaps the start of the first timeline?
Personally I prefer the origin hinted at in the very first film (and still one of my all-time favourites) in which mankind essentially destroyed themselves. Apes were not involved in this downfall at all, but instead took the opportunity to take one last step of evolution and claim their place as the dominant species over the last 2000 years.
Sorry, I completely got off track there. Anyways, good movie. Special effects weren’t noticeable while watching it, so they clearly passed the test. Some predictable story elements and others that go no place (mostly with the humans) but it looks great and the ape characters will likely keep you invested.
I am skeptical about where the third movie is going however…