[Movie Review] Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

By Melissa Platero, CCNN Writer

man and ape
Beautiful moments like this make the eventual fighting between apes and mankind all the more tragic.

When Rise of the Planet of the Apes came out in 2011, rebooting the classic Planet of the Apes series of movies and TV shows that first released in the 60s and 70s, it was a surprise hit. The blend of human emotion, computer-generated imagery (CGI), and Andy Serkis’ motion-captured performance breathed life into Caesar, an ape whose brain was rapidly becoming more intelligent as part of a lab experiment. By the climax, Caesar had led a rebellion of apes against mankind, and now Dawn of the Planet of the Apes wonderfully continues the tale with suspense, memorable characters, and sci-fi action.

The sequel takes place 10 years after Caesar’s revolution, and humanity has been massively wiped out by a deadly simian (monkey-related) virus. Caesar leads a peaceful town of apes in the redwood forest of Muir Woods across the Golden Gate Bridge, while a ragtag band of human survivors who are immune to the simian disease struggle to repair a hydroelectric dam that’ll restore power in San Francisco. When these two groups first meet, tensions rise, but the wise and thoughtful Caesar offers mercy. However, conflict soon follows, as the more unforgiving ape Koba and the monkey-hating human Dreyfus (played by Gary Oldman) lead their factions into all-out warfare.

While the human characters are rather forgettable, the apes are anything but. Serkis once again puts so much passion and believability into Caesar’s physical movements, that the motion-captured CGI just oozes human emotion. In fact, the CGI throughout the entire movie is very well done, and it’s often hard to tell the special effects apart from the actually physically filmed objects. While the story does descend into all-out explosions and fighting, it’s kept tightly-focused, and you’ll be rooting for the peacemakers on each side as they struggle to prevent human-ape extinction. Our final verdict? We give this flick an “A”.

Images courtesy of 20th Century Fox and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Facebook.