Taking place 10 years after the first movie, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes takes us into a glimpse of what life would be like when a deadly simian influenza breaks out from a lab and kills billions of people across the globe, leaving the now highly intelligent apes to thrive and sorta take over the world. Set in a post-apocalyptic background, Caesar is now a full-grown alpha ape. He is in control of the all the apes and together, he and his band of brothers and sisters have built a cozy nest in a forest beyond the ruins of San Francisco. The apes have lived in peace for the last 10 years without the disturbance of humankind. They have built their own communities, learned to communicate using complex sign language, learned to hunt using weapons, as well as educating themselves ala the farm animals in Orwell’s Animal Farm. However, as we all know, peace is a fragile thing in this world. All hell breaks lose when a band of human survivors comes across the apes. Fearing that things will be chaotic, Koba, Caesar’s right hand ape, decides that the humans should know who’s in control. He, alongside Caesar and the rest of the ape clan, decides to pay the human’s colony a visit to threaten them, and to let them know that they are not afraid of them anymore, and to tell the humans to stay clear of their “home”. One tricky thing though. The humans need to get pass Caesar’s home so that they can have power again – in the form of a hydroelectric plant which sits within Caesar’s home turf.
Caesar, having a soft side for humans, allows the human team led by Malcolm, to have a few days in his home turf to do whatever they need to get the power back on. Koba on the other hand, resents humans and has a plan of his own – which ultimately goes against what Caesar believes in: Peace. How will the story unfold? You’re gonna have to find out for yourself!
There are so many things that one should be most impressed about with the movie. So I’m going to make a list of why you should be impressed with Dawn of Planet of the Apes:
1. The CGI
Honest to God, the apes look almost realistic. Remember that Planet of the Apes remake with Mark Wahlberg and the apes just look like drag queens? Well that was eons ago and today, technology has help us to create almost realistic images of apes, brought to life by animators as well as fantastic actors!
2. Andy Serkis and the Gang
The movie wouldn’t have been great if it weren’t for the fantastic performance of Andy Serkis as Caesar. If you do not know who Andy Serkis is, you probably have heard Gollum. Yes, he’s the guy who gave life to Gollum, and he has definitely done justice to the adult Caesar. Jason Clarke, who plays Malcolm, also gave a great performance as the man who’s trust in Caesar is so overwhelming (probably because he’s scared shitless of the ape). Last but not least, Gary Oldman as the leader of the surviving humans, Dreyfus. As always, Oldman was a sight to behold, but his character in the movie kinda reminded me of the the rundown, disheveled, confused and lost Commissioner Gordon.
3. The plot
Now, you think with so many sub-plots, you’d get lost, confused and bored. But no, not with this movie. Director Matt Reeves and writers Mack Bomback, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver have crafted a story line so smooth, so heartfelt, so beautifully and intricately entwined that this movie is a worthy of an Oscar. It wasn’t just the smooth sailing story that was captivating, it was how the characters were developed and clear that you will get to sympathize and empathize with each and every single one of them. The writers really did do a great job of giving each important character a back story, without having to rely on too many unnecessary flashbacks.You will get to understand somehow from where each character comes from, and how the past has shaped them to be who they are in them movie, and determines the course of action that they will take in the future.
4. Underlying messages
Honestly, it is always a surprise to learn a lot from a movie that has been deemed to be one of Hollywood’s cliches before it was released. Honestly, I didn’t expect much from the movie and honestly, I thought it was going to be like one of those typical, message-less action movies but boy, was I wrong. Underneath all that ape grunting, violence and struggles between both humanity and ape, lies a profound message that this world truly needs: Peace. Caesar has been adamant about his quest to keep the peace within his tribe and yet Koba, the violent one, dares to challenge his authority to fight for what he believes in – to eradicate the humans. The humans want nothing more than surviving and having coped with the devastating effects of what they had done to each other, must now learn to survive against the imminent threat of the apes. The message here is simple: Peace is fragile, and with a slight misstep could lead to a war that can never be stopped. There are basically two themes in this movie: Peace and Trust. The word “trust” is a recurring theme in the movie, with Caesar showing loyalty towards Koba, his trust towards Malcolm and Malcolm towards Caesar. I think Peace and Trust go together very well and it is understood from the movie that when one offsets the balance of one of those themes, whatever tranquility that has been achieved will greatly be affected.
I think Reeves and his band of writers succeeded in coming up with a complex yet stunning movie without having to try too hard. The story just flows from one scene to another and the plot holes are hard to detect when you are so engrossed seeing the battle between ape and men. The juxtaposition of the characters of the apes and the humans are well constructed and leaves much room for discussion. Is this an Oscar worthy movie? Maybe, maybe not. But Dawn of the Planet of the Apes has succeeded Rise of the Planet of the Apes with a darker, much more complex plot yet beautifully executed by Reeves and his team.
If you have not watched this movie, I advise you do.