The Light Shineth on Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
by Robert La Vallie
The monkeys are ba-a-ack.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is the 2014 sequel to the 2011 film Rise of the Planet of the Apes and is superior to the first entry of the rebooted series in every way. Whereas Rise served as the opening foray and set the stage for the movies that are to follow, and as a result, had much (I would say, too much) backstory, Dawn puts you right in the center of the monkeys' camp, as you are taken on an ape-ish hunting expedition. If you are waiting for exposition, you are in the wrong movie, as action, action, and thankfully, more action is the crux of this action-packed cinematic thrill-ride.
Dawn stars Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Toby Kebbell, and Kodi Smit-McPhee, but the true star of this movie is Andy Serkis (of Gollum fame from the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies). He plays Caesar, the futuristic leader of the monkeys. At the end of Rise, we see that the ALZ-113 virus spread to all corners of the globe. In Dawn, we see the effects of this viral infection, as it causes the collapse of human civilization. As a result, ten years later, in 2016, Caesar leads and governs a new generation of apes in a community located in the Muir Woods of California. The apes wonder amongst themselves if the humans have indeed been rendered extinct. Their questions are soon answered as they encounter humans, who are immune to the virus.
And then, all you-know-what breaks loose. For the humans blame the apes for the creation and spreading of the virus (a lie), while the apes remember all-too well the torturous conditions in which they lived (the truth). Yes, there are humans and apes who are able to see beyond their primal, special tendencies, but for the most part, deep-seated anger festers in both man and ape, which culminates in all-out war.
So, if you are looking for that no-holds-barred, sit-yourselves-in-and-strap-yourselves-down, inter-special mega-battle-royal, plunk down a sawbuck and go see Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.
You'll go ape over it.
Lastly, hopefully, with his work in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, people will stop referring to Andy Serkis as a great motion-capture actor, and start referring to him simply as a great actor. He is to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes what Heath Ledger was to The Dark Knight. He gets my nod for the Academy Award for Best Actor.
Four-and-a-half (out of five) stars.
Interesting Fact: In Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the human race is nearly wiped out based on a virus. This also nearly happened in a movie titled 12 Monkeys.
Interesting Fact #2: The movie opens and closes in exactly the same way.
Interesting Fact #3: There are homages to several movies in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, including The Godfather II. Caesar as Michael Corleone was a nice touch.
Thanks for the review, Robert. I still haven't seen it, but hope to catch it whenever I have a chance.