“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” Review by Ashley Menzel

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is the latest “Apes” film from director, Matt Reeves. The film opens with a newsreel of the various attacks of the Simian virus and how it has destroyed most of the humans on Earth. We are then offered a view into the world of Caesar the ape, played by Andy Serkis and his teenage son Blue Eyes, his wife and his newborn son. Caesar is the head of the ape clan that includes Koba (Toby Kebbell), Rocket (Terry Notary), and Maurice (Karin Konoval).

The tranquility of the apes’ existence is interrupted by the presence of humans in the forest. The group is lead by Malcolm (Jason Clarke), along with his wife, Ellie (Keri Russell), and their son, Alexander (Kodi Smit-McPhee). Carver (Kirk Acevedo), Foster (John Eyez) and Kemp (Enrique Murciano) are also a part of the group. The apes think that most of the humans have died but they soon discover that there is a group of humans living in near by San Francisco. The humans have immunity to the Simian Flu and therefore have not died. They seek to rebuild the dam that has the ability to restore power to the city so they can contact other humans survivors in an attempt to build a new world. The humans are searching in the forest as they come across a few of the apes. When they interactive, Carver shoots Ash, one of the apes out of fear. With that, all the apes begin to descend on the humans. They are told to leave and are astonished that Caesar can speak. Malcolm feels that the apes are more than just apes than the others can recognize.Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

When the humans return to San Francisco, the apes follow them to learn more about their plans. They then decide to demonstrate their strength by coming down to the humans and threatening them to stay away from the forest. Malcolm plans to reason with Caesar and ask for his permission to use the dam to get energy. When Malcolm goes to Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) to tell him of his plan, Dreyfus disagrees but gives him three days to make an attempt before he begins his plan to go to battle with the apes.

Malcolm sets off to the forest with Alex, Ellie, Carver, Foster and Kemp to try to reason with the apes. When they get there, the apes are very apprehensive, none more than Koba who was locked up by humans and tortured. Caesar agrees to let them work on the dam as long as they don’t have their weapons. The humans give their weapons up and then begin working on the dam. Koba has another plan. He decides to investigate the humans further. He sees that Dreyfus is testing out the weapons in the armory in preparation for a possible attack on the apes. He doesn’t report this information back to Caesar but instead starts a bit of a mutiny. He gains Blue Eyes’ trust and uses him against Caesar.Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

While the humans were working on the dam, it was discovered that Carver had kept a weapon. As a result, there was much hostility between the apes and the humans. Caesar agreed to let them finish their work in one day after Ellie offered him medicine to heal his sick wife. The humans completed their work on the dam and power was restored. During a celebration, Caesar is shot by Koba and is presumed dead. Koba leaves a gun and a hat behind to make the apes think that it was a human. At this time, Malcolm and the rest of his party ran from the apes’ home. The apes, now headed by Koba, launch an attack on the humans in San Francsico.

While Koba was busy attacking San Francisco, Malcolm and his family locate Caesar in the forest. He was not dead and guided them to his old home where he had lived with Will Rodman. Ellie needed to perform surgery on him so Malcolm volunteered to go to the city to get the surgical supplies. When there, he encountered Blue Eyes who thought his father was dead. Malcolm brought him back to the house so he could speak with his father. Caesar told Blue Eyes that it was Koba who had shot him. Caesar then decided that he had to right the wrongs of the apes, particularly all that Koba had done. He sought to regain control once again over the group of apes.

While Caesar was returning to fight Koba, Blue Eyes released the humans and the apes that were too loyal to Caesar. Malcolm led Caesar and his loyal following to the building where Koba was staying. While in the subway, Malcolm encountered Dreyfus who was setting up bombs to blow up the building where Koba was. Koba and Caesar had a fight on the building and Caesar ended up killing Koba because he was not an ape, but rather a monster. During the fight Malcom tried to stop Dreyfus from blowing up the building, but he couldn’t.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The film ends with Malcolm and Caesar saying goodbye. Caesar told Malcolm that he had to leave because the apes had started war and he had to stay to defend the apes. There is a close up on Caesar’s eyes and the screen cuts to black.

This film, at the core offers a lot of things to ponder. As humans, we SHOULD feel more empathy for the humans in this situation, but we don’t. Why is that? The film did such a great job of designing the apes to look so much like humans that we associate with them more than the actual humans. We project our emotions onto the apes and we humanize them in ways that we didn’t expect to. According to a study completed by Levin and Arluke, people feel more empathy towards a hurt or battered dog than they do for an adult human. I have always found this to be an interesting concept and this movie really made me think about that and about my own thought processes. In general, I don’t think that the human relationships were developed enough to make me care about what happens to them, or is it again simply that I just feel more empathy towards the  apes rather than the humans?

In general, I found the film to be quite entertaining. The special effects were incredible and visually the film was really great. The only thing that I felt was lacking was the development of human characters. The evil ape, Koba, is truly scary in some portions of the film. Overall, I think Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is definitely worth seeing even if you aren’t a fan of the other films.

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