It really isn’t all that hard to imagine; the world being almost entirely wiped out by a runaway virus. But the real story in “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” begins some ten years later when a small group of human survivors in what is left of San Francisco happen to encounter a large group of highly evolved apes with significant communication and basic language skills.
The costumes and makeup are simply phenomenal. I mean when you see Andy Serkis (Caesar) and Toby Kebbell (Koba) and Nick Thurston (Blue Eyes) they are all apes. This is nothing like the old school horror/science fiction flicks where the costuming was at best dubious, in “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” those darn apes are APES. That alone is worth the price of admission but the way the story is told is pure brilliance.
A small group of humans head out into the countryside near San Francisco with the goal of finding and repairing a power station located on a nearby dam. One of the humans encounters an ape and motivated by shock and fear shoots the ape. Instantly several of the apes want to go forth and kill off all of the humans. However a calm, cool and very wise Caesar, the leader of the apes, prevails upon his colony of apes to stay calm and engage in a truce with the humans.
The truce is soon broken however and at one point the apes come very close to destroying the remnants of human society. However Caesar who had been nearly killed by his own son is brought back to sufficient health to join with the humans to gain their release and restore peace. In the end, however, it is made clear to Caesar that war between the apes and humans remains and the outcome is at best bleak.
It is not a joyful end to a genuinely great movie but it is poignantly honest. The human condition is such that we as a species have this uncanny powerful urge to kill one another. These mutated apes lived by a code that held that no ape would kill another ape. That code got broken as did the condition of peace. And apparently a part of the evolution of the apes was that they became more human meaning among other things that war would be inevitable.
The acting was Oscar level, the story is rich and compelling, the cinematography is superb, the action scenes are brilliant and again the makeup and costuming sets the standards for the future of all films. It has attained a quite rare 8.6 rating on IMDB. It is two hours and ten minutes long but it is so riveting that it just doesn’t seem that long. If you enjoy some fantasy skillfully wrapped about some ugly but all too human truth you will fully embrace “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” currently in wide release.
Copyright 2014 Ron Irwin