Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014): One Last Chance for Peace

Posted: July 30, 2014 in Action, Drama, Sci-Fi
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dawn_of_the_planet_of_the_apes_poster_a_pAfter 10 years of separation between the humans and apes around San Francisco, the humans are struggling to maintain civilization. Power is running out and supplies are starting to run low. Meanwhile, the apes have established a growing culture led by Caesar and educated by Maurice. After a hunting accident, Blue Eyes (Caesar’s son) and his friend Ash are out wandering when they run into a couple of humans. In the chaos, Ash is shot and injured, leading Caesar to scare the humans out of the woods. The humans report back to Dreyfus, their leader, and Malcolm, the skilled engineer, volunteers to return to the woods to try to restart the dam’s hydroelectric engine. Facing down the apes, Malcolm is able to get approval from Caesar and gets assistance with the work from the apes. Koba, Caesar’s trusted partner, expresses his hesitation with the humans and sets out to prove that their worlds cannot coexist.

Starring: Andy Serkis (Caesar), Jason Clarke (Malcolm), Gary Oldman (Dreyfus), Keri Russell (Ellie), Toby Kebbell (Koba), Kodi Smit-McPhee (Alexander), Kirk Acevedo (Carver), Nick Thurston (Blue Eyes), Terry Notary (Rocket), Karin Konoval (Maurice), Judy Greer (Cornelia), Jon Eyez (Foster), Enrique Murciano (Kemp), Larramie Doc Shaw (Ash), Lee Ross (Grey)

For those who were expecting to see the return of James Franco, the plot line’s disease that killed off most of the human population served as the end of that character. In his place, Clarke served as a kind-hearted, honest survivor who believed in the opportunity to connect the humans and apes. His performance was matched by the talented Gary Oldman, who seemed to channel his marquee character from the Dark Knight series with a little less heart. The real stars of the film were Serkis and Kebbell, who served as the best and the worst of the ape culture.

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Taking over for Rupert Wyatt’s reboot of the series, Matt Reeves took the story to the next stage in the eventual ape conquering of Earth. Set 10 years after the events in the first film, the two civilizations were living in separation with the bridge as the only link between the two. While the apes had adjusted and were building a growingly advanced civilization, the humans had slowly begun to devolve into a more chaotic and desperate group focused on survival. Power was their main focus, and they were willing to risk crossing the divide into the ape’s territory to regain their lost resource. While Caesar and Malcolm were able to come to a common understanding and partnership, both sides had troublesome detractors from peace. Carver was simply prejudiced against the apes and their survival skills, while Dreyfus acted from a place of fear and ignorance regarding their increasingly more intelligent existence. Koba, on the apes’ side, was the biggest threat of all. While he had similar fears and trust issues like Carver, he was more willing to act on them and take desperate measures to start a war against the humans.

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This sequel began to delve into humanity’s loss of control as the dominant species but stopped short for finishing that storyline in this project. Instead, this film portrayed an intriguing cross-species friendship, a set of distrusting and violent catalysts, and only the very beginnings of the eventual war between the civilizations. While the action sequences were well choreographed with realistic explosions and novelties like apes riding horses and firing machine guns, this battle was only the precursor to the larger fight further down through story. Films over the past decade have started to forgo finishing storylines in individual films to stretch them as far as possible. This can lead to either hapless attempts at filling the story content (i.e. Twilight series) or frustrations even before the films are released (i.e. The Hobbit and Hunger Games series).

Even with the somewhat odd feeling of ending the film with only a secondary story resolved, the film had plenty of excellent elements to add to the lore of this world of conquest and power struggles.

Dan’s Rating: 3.5/5

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