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‘Dawn Of The Planet of the Apes” Movie Review: Better Than The First One?


We don’t expect much from sequels especially a reboot of a franchise, but I’m happy to report that DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES doesn’t suffer from sequelities, and it may be better than “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.”

Sequelities occurs when a follow-up movie foregoes a good plot for bigger and better effects because they’re rushing to get it into movie theaters. The movie studio is often more confident going into a second film so the budget is often increased to give us more of a spectacle. In the past, sequels often took three years to get to the screen (ie. Stars Wars, Indiana Jones), but now the studios have a factory line of sequels coming out every year to keep the momentum going (ie.The Hunger Games, Twilight, The Hobbit). However, DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES comes to the big screen three years after the 2011 reboot starring James Franco and it payes off with a well-rounded story that balances action and strong moral themes.

In the follow-up to “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” we find Caesar 10 years later leading a colony of highly-evolved walking and talking apes in the forests just outside San Francisco. They have families and children. No joke, their “village” looked like the Ewok camp in “Return of the Jedi.” I expected the apes to break out in song and dance. Nerdy comments aside, the ape camp is a peaceful community led by Caesar and his close circle of advisors including Koba, the ugly-looking science chimp from the first film, who is fiercely loyal. We see the ape community going through human-like issues. Caesar now has a teenage son who is often rebellious with his father.

Of course the humans have to enter the picture and ruin their serenity. The humans have been decimated around the world because of the human-created virus, and only a few who were immune to the virus live in the ruins of San Francisco under the direction of Gary Oldman’s Dreyfus. When a group of humans led by Malcolm (Jason Clarke) and Elle (Keri Russell) venture into the forest to repair the dam so they can have running water in the city, one of their men, played by Kirk Acevedo, shoots one of the apes when he sees the animals talking. This sets off a war between the apes and the humans. While Caesar is trying to keep the peace, Koba’s hatred for the human resurfaces, and he’s urging Caesar to go to war with the humans.

Behind The Scenes of 'Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes' With Actor Kirk Acevedo


DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES starts out intense and doesn’t stop for the entire film. Not only is it non-stop action, but the themes are just as powerful. The parallels between human and animal nature are clearly made with bad seeds on both sides, but as usual humans come out looking worse than the animals.

As usual, Andy Serkis does an amazing job as Caesar. His eyes are so expressive, you go beyond seeing a monkey and relive the emotional bond from the first film. At the end of “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” Caesar’s hatred for the humans is overwhelming, but in DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES he’s got a soft spot for the humans since Malcolm’s (Clarke) kindness reminds him of his human father, played by James Franco in the previous film.

Jason Clarke’s Malcolm also gives a sympathetic performance as the human building a relationship with Caesar while also stopping a war between the two species. However, he plays too good of a good guy in that there is not much depth to his character. Everyone has faults, but we didn’t see any in his character.

Keri Russell didn’t have much to do in the film although she plays a tough lady but she didn’t see much action.

 Kirk Acevedo, Keri Russell, Jason Clarke, Kodi Smit-McPhee and Enrique Murciano in DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES

The special effects and 3D are amazing. Continuing what was started in “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” the primates look so very realistic and the expressions are beautifully captured through motion capture. The story was so enthralling, I forgot I was wearing 3D glasses and watching it in three-dimension. As a non-fan of 3D, it was a pleasant surprise not to have to fidget with my glasses.

Is it better than “Rise of the Planet of the Apes?” Given the first one is a prequel to “Planet of the Apes,” there was a lot of set up to the story and characters. It didn’t really get intense until the third act, but the follow-up gets to the conflict right away with moral issues that leave you thinking, “what would I do?”

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