The Planet Of The Apes Films – Part 8 of 8: Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes (2014)

A decade after the events of the previous film – much of the human race has been wiped out by simian flu.

Caesar heads a vast colony of apes and chimps – and this intelligent primate community live happily in the woods outside the desolate remains of San Francisco. Things are good for Caesar as his wife has now given birth to their second son.

In the ruins of the city a group of human survivors struggle to survive. They want to repair an old hydro electric dam to generate power for their colony.

To do so they would have to travel right through the middle of the ape stronghold. Malcolm, a member of the group and his family manage to broker a truce with Caesar in order to carry out the repairs.

Caesar’s lieutenant Koba is not so happy about the arrangement.  He despises humans. Usurping Caesar – he stages a revolt against his own kind in order to attack the remaining human population of the city.

Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes is a terrific sequel. Andy Serkis continues to do excellent work as Caesar.

The film has a fine supporting cast that includes Jason Clarke as the sympathetic Malcolm – and also boasts fine turns from Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Toby Kebbell and Kodi Smit McPhee.

The director this time is the extraordinarily talented Matt Reeves and he does an excellent job. He creates an thrilling epic with outstanding visual effects and a perfectly executed plot. This film never hits a bad note and rockets seamlessly to it’s downbeat climax.

It’s fascinating to see the culture of the apes explored. The film begins with a striking sequence of the apes hunting in the wild whilst wearing warpaint. They look truly intimidating as fierce warriors – chasing their quarry in the wild.

When I watched it again for this review – it was only the second time I’d ever seen it. I didn’t remember much so in a way it was almost like watching it for the first time again. I was really blown away by how gorgeous this film looks.

The forest scenes are awash with vibrant greens and deep browns but the blues of the sky are quite muted. It’s a striking look that makes the forests look more like a jungle. The ideal habitat for a colony of apes to live in.

The headquarters of the human survivors are beautifully designed. The production design of this movie is one of it’s greatest strengths.

This film is a true work of art. It’s like watching a moving painting.

The story bears some similarities with Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes. The credo “Ape does not kill ape” is mentioned numerous times. Also like that film – the final battle is not between ape and human but ape and ape.

It’s heartbreaking when Koba turns against Caesar and blames the humans for it just so he can start a war. The knock on effect of this is that apes and humans can never be friends.

The real tragedy of it all is that when looking back on the events of this film there is actually no real reason why they couldn’t have lived together in harmony.

If the previous film was about the danger of playing God, then this one is about the pointlessness of war.

The apes consider themselves superior to humans in every way. What does it take to change that and bring the apes down to the human’s level?

One of them learning how to use a gun.

The second the trigger is squeezed by an ape’s finger for the first time, the stink of the humans is upon them. Like the best films in this series – this one points out the negative attributes of the human race – but is not completely unsympathetic.

Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes is a very sad tale. It’s sad because most of what it says about the state of the world is true. It may create a compelling science fiction world in which to tell it’s story – but scratch the surface and it’s not all that different from the world we live in now.

The Man Who Saved Movies. War has… already begun. Ape started war. And human… Human will not forgive. You must go… before fighting begins. I am sorry… my friend.

Click here for my review of War For The Planet Of The Apes. In cinemas now!

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  • MegaDethlok

    “Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes is a very sad tale. It’s sad because most of what it says about the state of the world is true. It may create a compelling science fiction world in which to tell it’s story – but scratch the surface and it’s not all that different from the world we live in now.”

    You hit the nail on the muthafucking head, friend!
    As vile as Koba was, there is some credence to why he has such disdain for humanity kinda like X-men’s Magneto. “The Harbinger of death” can be seen as a threat to all species however, Koba fail to realize that not all humans are evil but when you have been experimented on and tortured, all logic and reasoning goes out the window. The brilliance of War for the POTA’s narrative, is how Caesar often struggled with his inner demons and how visions of Koba may have convinced him that the human race can never be trusted. But there’s still a modicum of compassion toward the end when he refused to put the colonel out of his misery inspite of the attrocious acts he has commited. That was the defining moment of the character’s arc and IMO, a fitting swan song for this reboot.