Set about 10 years after the last movie (Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes), humans are almost extinct (and we can’t blame zombies this time!). Simian flu, started by James Franco’s character in the last film, has killed off most of the population, but a small band of survivors in San Francisco led by Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) and his right hand man, Malcolm (Jason Clarke), forge on with hopes of contacting others to rebuild civilization.
Out in the woods surrounding San Francisco, apes have continued their evolution led by the one who started it all, Caesar (Andy Serkis). Many remain loyal to him for freeing them from their human captors and the cruel experiments that scarred them for life, but Caesar’s leadership is about to be challenged.
Humans need to access a part of the woods in the heart of ape territory to rehabilitate a crucial power plant, and many of the simians want to destroy humans, while they have the chance.
Many humans feel the same way about the apes, but Malcolm and Caesar try to forge peace and understanding, which is threatened by those who want vengeance (these two are kind of like President Obama and John Boehner).
Will the two sides be able to trust each other, or will we get a war?
Dude, it’s a summer movie with lots of special effects, so I think you can bank on some war.
Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes picks up at the same amazing level of execution and storytelling as Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, and you have to commend the three person writing team for creating a plot full of complexity, layers of intrigue and some good old fashioned popcorn chomping action, but they needed to focus more on ending this story, instead of taking a little steam out of it by focusing too much on setting us up for a third Apes movie.
Director Matt Reeves leads the first two thirds of Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes to be some of the best filmmaking of the summer. The special effects are just as marvelous and awesome this second time around as the apes now interact more with each other and humans than they did in the first movie with stunning results.
The human actors and the computer wizards who bring these apes into existence show mesmerizing physical ability and programming prowess to give the characters personalities, tenderness, anger and amazing life. You almost expect to go to the zoo someday and see one of these chimps or gorillas start a conversation with you (or realize they are communicating amongst themselves to make an escape!).
Plus, Reeves and the writing team do a wonderful job building up to an explosive climax as we see different factions emerging, competing arguments for war and peace being made and laying the groundwork for the ultimate showdown full of crackling tension that leaps off the screen.
Yet, that showdown feels like it occurred about 30 minutes too early. Premature climaxing hurts the film as the movie’s huge highlight is that massive battle between humans and apes, which you knew was going to happen when you bought a ticket. This epic war in Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes has ferocity unlike almost any you have ever seen on screen and delivers on every promise and hope fans have for the sequel.
However, Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes doesn’t end there where it should (kind of like this review). Reeves and the team take it a bit further with mixed results (kind of like this review).
Nothing after this true climax shocks and awes you as much. The action feels a bit repetitive. The audience has to relive some events of the last movie which don’t add to our enjoyment of this one. And, you get the feeling this last act exists to set us up for a third movie as Reeves and company spend a bit too much time hinting to the audience about what we should be looking forward to in the next installment.
Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes still rocks your world, but the next promised sequel already feels like we are going to cover much of the same territory already covered here. I hope I am wrong.
Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and brief strong language.