‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ is a breathtakingly brilliant motion picture that seamlessly extends the timeline from the ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes. When we last saw Caesar, he was leading the apes to Muir Woods, a haven outside of San Francisco just as a deadly human-created virus spread globally. It has been ten years after the devastating virus was unleashed. Human survivors in search of electrical power accidently encounter the nation of genetically evolved apes in the woods.
Caesar who was raised by humans has the wisdom and empathy to understand man. He realizes that their existence is dependent upon their mutual agreement to allow peace. He knows that man will never give up on destroying its enemy. The two parties reach a fragile peace but it proves short-lived. Like the mighty emperor Caesar, the leader of the apes becomes a victim of betrayal from someone close to him. Distrust and fear leads both sides to the brink of a war that will determine who will emerge as Earth’s dominant species.
One look at the sleek and highly sophisticated film and you instantly know that this isn’t the crude ‘Planet of the Apes’ that Charleston Heston made famous. One chief difference is the story itself. It allows the viewer to see the film from the perspective of apes and humans. One cannot help but be sympathetic to the human’s desire to regain some semblance of their previous lives. Their numbers are depleted and they have lost all humanity. On the other hand, we can relate to the evolution of the once captive apes as they thrive and grow in numbers while desiring to create a nation unto them since it is the basic tenet of freedom.
Andy Serkis is astoundingly brilliant as the alpha ape, Caesar. He transforms into the leader of the apes from his facial expressions to his quadruped stance. Of course, we would expect no less of Serkis having witnessed his amazing work in the ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy as Golem. His ingenuity combined with astounding CGI technology (courtesy of WETA Digital), brings the mighty warrior to life (take note Academy®).
Jason Clarke portrays the sympathetic Malcom who had to rebuild his life after his wife died from the virus. He along with his new wife, Ellie (Keri Russell) and his son Alexander (Kodi Smit-McPhee) are struggling to make a life among the ruins. His character is the mirror image of Caesar in this post-apocalyptic world. Viewers are able to see the similarities between Caesar and Malcolm as they work to keep their families safe.
In the film, the genetically advanced apes share some of the same character traits as humans such as envy, greed, deception, and revenge. It is not hard to speculate that this could be possible since evolutionary biologist claim that genetically apes and human are ninety-five to ninety-nine percent the same. Consequently, all bets are off when these two species collide in battle.
Both Caesar and Malcom agree to compromise and work together for the good of their families and societies. These decisions are not wholly accepted by their prospective sides since each group is suffering from a form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). For example, like most humans Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) blames the apes for the human’s suffering. Despite the fact that humans created the virus that brought on the destruction of civilization, he vows to kill them all.
Koba (Toby Kebbell) is a formidable antagonist. Koba who once was a laboratory test animal is scared physically from experimentation (he has a milky eye) and emotionally. Like Dreyfus, he wants all humans dead for the suffering he endured while caged. Kebbell portrayal of the treacherous Koba is frightening. His body language conveys pure hatred. Yet, it is his harshly selfish actions that almost destroy the apes.
‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ is directed by Matt Reeves (‘Cloverfield’, ‘Let Me In’) he creates a world where apes are intelligent and capable of building a society based on rules. For example, much like the human Ten Commandments, ape rules states, ‘No ape shall kill another ape.’ Reeves also shot the film in native 3D. The result is a realistic, dazzling, and vividly clear film that allows digitally generated apes to appear as lifelike as possible. In fact, it is amazing that this was done amidst stunning exterior rainforest locations in British Colombia along with motion caption performances by fifty actors. It takes an intellectually astute director to successfully pull off a project of this magnitude.
The cast includes Andy Serkis (‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’), Jason Clarke (‘Zero Dark Thirty,’) Gary Oldman (‘Robocop,’) Keri Russell (‘The Americans’ TV series), Toby Kebbell (‘The Counselor), Kodi Smith-McPhee (‘Let Me In’), Enrique Murciano ‘(666 Park Avenue’ TV series)and Kirk Acevedo (‘The Walking Dead’ TV series).
‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ is a cinematic wonder that is a realistic depiction of the fight for survival between humans and apes. It will open in theaters July 11, 2014. It is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and brief strong language and has a run time of 130 minutes.