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'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes' review: No rewarding characters

Jason Clarke, Keri Russell, and Andy Serkis promote "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes."
Jason Clarke, Keri Russell, and Andy Serkis promote "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes."
Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes


After a couple of weeks of lackluster movies, “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” has maintained its presence at the box office. Following the success and strength of story of “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” (plus, who doesn’t love John Lithgow), “Dawn” switched directors to Matt Reeves, abandons the human focus of its predecessor to highlight the ape structure, but the charm is lost. A special effects-driven film, “Dawn” and Reeves rely on summer blockbuster format to sell the movie rather than making a worthy sequel.

Years have passed since Caesar’s (Andy Serkis) remarkable transformation and forced evolution of apes, and the outbreak has killed off most of the human population. A group of immune survivors led by Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) are contained in San Francisco, but they are desperate to use the power from a nearby dam to start their lives over and search for other survivors. When a team sent to examine the dam encounters wandering, young apes, one being Caesar’s son Blue Eyes (Nick Thurston), humans and apes do not know how to trust each other as some from each side are ready for violence. Team leader Malcolm (Jason Clarke) wants to protect his family (Keri Russell, Kodi Smit-McPhee) while looking out for the best interest of the humans, which is why he and Caesar are able to come to an understanding since Caesar wants the same thing for the apes. Unfortunately, Carver (Kirk Acevedo), a human, and Koba (Toby Kebbell), an ape with a grudge from being used in science experiments, harm the peaceful plans by using unnecessary violence. Malcolm and Caesar realize their species face war but do what they can to help.

“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” struggles with its emotional moments with both the humans and apes because the main character isn’t set; Caesar and Malcolm are the warm, relatable heroes, but emphasis is placed on the hope of their second generations to find peace and understand each other. It is hard to connect with one point-of-view. Also, relationships and connections remain unclear as new characters aren’t so much introduced as dropped into the story without full explanations of their pasts.

As a sci-fi, action movie, the marvel of Andy Serkis’ performance lingers in the second film, but “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” is only enjoyable as a special effects-heavy piece. The apes are worth one watch, but it doesn’t have to be soon, or even in theatres.

Rating for “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes:” C-

For more information on this film or to view its trailer, click here.

“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” is still playing across Columbus, including at AMC Lennox and Easton. For showtimes, click here.