JULY 11, 2014

I’m a big fan of the original PLANET OF THE APES (1968) as it’s a sci-fi masterpiece and I have read Pierre Boulle’s original novel. I remember being hesitant about seeing RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (2011) because I felt that that the film series had been laid waste by Burton’s PLANET OF THE APES (2001) remake. So it was a pleasant surprise to discover it to be a thoughtful piece of cinema with a real story and something on its mind other than talking apes. 

The trailers for DAWN looked intriguing but I was again worried as the original series went downhill faster than the human race contracted the simian flu. I’m again pleased to say that not only is DAWN a worthy sequel but it is a far superior movie dealing with some heady themes but all within the context of a rip-roaring adventure film. 

It’s now a good 10 years later and humanity has been pretty much decimated by the Simian Flu with only pockets of makeshift cities still intact. Meanwhile the apes, lead by Caeser (Andy Serkis), have fled into the Muir woods and have set up a community of their own, pleased to be free of the humans. 

Unfortunately the two disparate groups collide when the humans needing power encroach onto ape territory to repair a faulty damn that could provide them the electricity they desperately need. 

Both the humans and the apes have their optimists as well as their detractors and miscommunication and distrust make the already tenuous peace fray at both ends. 

DAWN is a smart and intelligent film and deals with some weighty themes that are more than relevant in today’s hair-trigger global climate. It attempts successfully to show the conflict from both sides and it’s difficult at times to route for the humans. 

The performances are solid, but it’s the apes that truly do a better job at conveying the emotional weight of the material. The human actors do a fine job, but a few are a little arch for their own good. It’s understandable that many would be volatile given the massive loss of their reign over the world, but it also seems a little too bold at times given their shaky situation as top of the food chain. 

This review would not be complete without noting the absolutely AMAZING computer FX in the film. WETA has outdone themselves, delivering absolutely photo realistic apes that seemed more real than their human counterparts at times. If they don’t win an Oscar for this achievement, then maybe the apes should take over. 

Not quite a classic like the 1968 original, DAWN is a worthy successor to the throne and a quality and pensive film in a time of overbloated Blockbusters.