Whats it about? – Ten years after apes have gained intelligence as a result of a super virus which has killed off a majority of humans, the remaining human survivors and the new ape society find themselves on a very thin line between peaceful harmony or total war.
Review in one line – It’s a good movie but prepare to deal with at least a few cases of ape shit
Review (Warning, some light spoilers, nothing story breaking) – Let me get this out of the way, for anyone who saw Rise of the Planet of the Apes, I can say this with confidence, this one is much better. For starters there is barely any James Franco which is good (this a personal opinion) second, there is barely any James Franco which is good (a general public opinion).
Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, lets dive into the movie itself. First off the story was pleasantly well done, which surprised me after seeing Rise of the Plan… ok from now on I’m referring to these movies as RISE or DAWN, because I lack patience. Anyway, the story in DAWN was well done, it built characters that I found myself interested in and even cared for, even going as far as to give us justifiably evil characters, something where there is a lack of. Andy Serkis who plays Caesar does an astounding job in creating a strong leader to whom I found myself interested and concerned with.
Then human characters are introduced. That’s whats interesting to me, the story about the apes was far more interesting and well done than the humans story, complimented with a lack of dialogue and relying on facial features to convey emotion for a good part of the film. But as fascinating and in-depth as the apes were, the humans seemed bland and typical as post-apocalyptic survivors with the all to typical goal of rebuilding society that is seen in nearly every post-apocalyptic movie or TV show (see Walking Dead as reference). More so, the dialogue that is shared between the humans seemed vanilla.
The movie is a very good looking film, having spanning views of destroyed San Francisco or almost claustrophobic shots of the forest. One of my favorite parts of the movie is a fixed camera that shows the immense scale of the films big battle scene, which was amazingly well done and would be enough of a reason for me to watch the whole film again. The action scenes were also well done, creating brutal, even savage fight scenes. The best instance of action in the whole movie is the assault on the human colony, where hundreds of apes with guns and horses charge a walled human settlement which has grenades and rocket launchers. If any action fans did not get giddy at the sound of that then boo, boo on you sirs (or madame’s).
Now for the bad parts, first off what really bugged me was that while watching the film I could imagine the writer getting through two thirds of a well written script before throwing their hands up and saying ‘fuck it!’ Because that’s what it felt like. The two characters who you can call antagonists, Gary Oldman’s character Dreyfus and the Toby Kebbell’s character Koba, were both justifiable in their goals and actions, where they had good reasons for what they did. But then in a feat of bad writing, these two characters become almost cartoonish and completely irrational, throwing away their well thought out logic to be crazy.
Then there are other parts that annoyed me. The amount of times that apes talked in the film, especially among one another (fuck me it’s surprising the first time all the way back in RISE but it works once… only once because after that you are not surprised and it’s almost comical to see the actors retract in horror when everyone who watched RISE are thinking ‘yeah, we knew that, how did it take you ten years to figure this out! FUCK!’) But I digress.
It was moments like these, along with other parts such as how apes can hit the broadside of a barn while holding an assault rifle with one hand with zero training, that broke the immersion that I felt throughout the first half of the movie.
As annoying as these things were, I have to make it clear that this was a good movie. For all it’s flaws it created characters (mainly apes) who I cared for and were interested in. It developed a power struggle that was believable and it gave good reason to fear the apes, while sticking to themes that were persistent throughout all Planet of the Apes movies such as the switching of roles between apes and humans, and the concerns of conflict between cultures based on racism.
Final Say – If you skipped to here, I don’t blame you. In the end DAWN is a good movie, not a great movie since it is plagued with instances of breaking away from good writing or repeatedly halting immersion but it’s still enjoyable. It has good character development with a strong multi layered conflict, some great action and stays true to the Planet of the Apes central themes.
7/10 – It’s ok and I got no plans friday.