Review: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

DawnOfApes This summer has been plagued with some rather disappointing blockbuster films. Godzilla and Trans-goddamn-formers 4 come to mind as we look at older properties brought to the big screen this summer. Thank goodness we have a film such as this to give us a much needed break from some of the other terrible movies we’ve been suffering through. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes lives up to the hype it is currently receiving. This is a gripping character piece which focuses on someone we care for the most. The film also asks you to decide what is truly worth fighting for; It is a story of survival. Yet when you fight to survive… whom do you fight against? Set ten years after the events of Rise of the Planet of the Apes we find the now extremely intelligent apes thriving in their forest home. Hunting and gathering, raising families and living in peace with themselves. We even get a peek at an ape school. They communicate mainly through sign language but will use spoken words when the situation demands it. These apes aren’t just CGI set pieces either. These are living and breathing characters with heart and soul. You care for them, worry about them and, when certain events happen, you can even hate them. This film truly sells the entire notion of these apes as a people with needs and wants. The aren’t monsters or spectacle. They are people.

Speaking of people, the apes believe mankind has wiped itself out by now as they haven’t seen them in years. This notion is struck down as two hunters discover a man wandering the woods… and he’s not alone. This is the beginning of the crux of our story. The humans have a city they now live in yet they need something that is in the ape territory. The humans are entirely unaware of the intelligent apes in the woods and when they speak they are caught entirely off guard. Worlds are rocked on both sides but the humans still want to acquire something in the apes' territory, so the conflict continues. The apes want nothing to do with the humans… and worlds collide.

Now we are already humans ourselves so it’s easy to empathize with the human characters as the thing they want is very logical. They want to survive. They NEED to survive. All of this is to say that the humans in the film aren’t inherently evil. The apes, as much as we come to feel for them, also are not inherently good. The trailers promise a war and you get one. The causes of this war are far from simple and comes down to human nature on both sides. Apes believe themselves to be above humans but we soon see that they are really no different from us.

The writing in this movie is rock solid. Dialogue and character arcs flow smoothly without massive hiccups or obvious questions with no answers. Characters truly come to life in front of us… and those apes. Pure CG and the only time it looked iffy was at the sight of a baby ape. Everything else was spot on. WETA Workshop continues to show that it truly is the best in the business when it comes to realistic CGI. They create some truly stunning and epic visuals to go along with this amazing story.

If you enjoyed Rise you will love the Dawn. If you haven’t seen Rise of the Planet of the Apes I implore you to do so now and then haul ass to the theater to see this new film that ups the ante to deliver a great follow up to a fantastic tale.

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