Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Review


By Justin Jasso (@jjasso007)

It is not uncommon to come across video of animals in nature befriending other animals that they should be “enemies” with. Dogs and cats are a perfect example. There have also been documented events where children may fall into an animal enclosure, like that of a gorilla, and a mother gorilla will protect the infant from any further harm. If it was a human doing this for another human, we’d call it the best aspect of humanity. But, in reality, this is called the spirit of compassion and an innate love. These feelings were developed in the 2011 film, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and continue in the newly released sequel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

An undisclosed time after the Rise of the Planet of the Apes has ended, the world is a much different place. The virus that Robert (Tyler Labine) had contracted in the first film has now spread globally, killing off the vast majority of the human population. At the same time, the apes, led by Caesar (Andy Serkis) have created a home of their own in the mountains around San Francisco. They are unaware if any humans remain, until one day when they stumble upon a group. The humans who survived are living in San Francisco, but are running out of fuel. They need to start a water-based generator at a dam up by the apes. But there is a large distrust among apes and humans. Malcolm (Jason Clarke) and Ellie (Kerri Russell) decide to approach Caesar to explain the situation and ask for his help. However, Caesar once trusted the humans, knowing not all of them are bad. Will this trust eventually bring upon the downfall of the apes and to the peace they have since endured?
One of the main differences between Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and all other summer blockbusters is the fact that Dawn of the Planet of the Apes focuses on storytelling and not on big special effects and blowing things up just for the sake of blowing things up. At the heart of the film are many subjects to which we can all relate. First there is the idea of trust versus mistrust, a foundation of humans found when we are infants. As infants, we trust that our parents will take care of us when we cry, feed us when we need fed, change us. If we fail to develop that trust, it sets us back in our mental development as we grow. The same is true here, as in the first film, that many of the apes only knew humans from their time at Gen-Sys laboratories and at the animal shelter where they were abused and mistreated. They never developed that trust of humans and that carries over to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, particularly with the ape Koba (Toby Kebbell).

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes also looks at our prejudices as living beings. Often, prejudices drive our actions toward specific groups of people and we become solidified in our thoughts and views, most of which are untrue. Humans and apes both live in fear of each other. Many humans blame the mass extinction of the humans on the apes, but in reality, it was a virus created by humans in a lab to treat Alzheimer’s which didn’t work. On the other hand, the apes who were mistreated all of their life believe all humans to be evil and, in turn, want to exterminate them before they have the opportunity to exact that ending on the apes. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes shows us that what we believe to be true based on a small sample is not necessarily true of a whole population, reminding us to not be quick to judge others nor form opinions which may be untrue.
Major credit has to be given to the special effects teams on Dawn of the Planet of the Apes as well as the actors portraying all of the apes. The level of detail is impeccable, down to the nuances of matted hair or the way the bodies move. Andy Serkis, once again, is exemplary portraying Caesar, as he continues to display so much emotion and thought through the characters body language. Jason Clarke, taking on the lead in a non-ape role, also deserves credit for his performance. If Serkis is the Yin, then Clarke is the Yang, and they each bring so much force and power to their roles that they equally balance the other out, creating a perfect harmony of thought and emotion which helps drive the narrative forward.

It is rare that a sequel is as good as its predecessor, as a bar is set and it is hard to repeat the level of quality found with the original. But Dawn of the Planet of the Apes rises to the occasion and meets that bar. This entry is a little more action-oriented, but the main thing is that is has a deep story to tell, one of fear and hate, of love and compassion, and of the prejudices we hold and the need to see through those prejudices if we hope to make this world a better place for everyone. A third installment is almost guaranteed and, with the way the first two films have gone, that is definitely a win for audiences around the world.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars


  1. mocanu andraJuly 19th, 2014 at 4:59 am

    It sounds like an interesting movie. I can’t wait to watch it! I have seen the Planet of the Apes with Mark Wahlberg and I liked it a lot,so I’m curious about this one. It’s a good summary!

  2. MixedFebruary 16th, 2016 at 5:10 am

    I think the previous apes movies are better than this movie. But still it is full of action and the apes in this movie are more rational than the ape is previous movies. The only difference is the story where the human was rendered powerless because of the deadly virus carried by the apes.

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