Movie Review: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

I very much liked Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011— ignore Tim Burton's 2001 folly). It was a good movie on its own with a high degree of emotional involvement, and provided a great back story to the 1968 classic Planet of the Apes. One of the best things I thought the movie did right was to provide a scientifically plausible answer to how it could be that we got from today's society to one where apes of all kinds rule. The number one best thing it did was to make Caesar, the first chimpanzee with human-level intelligence, into a sympathetic and moving star. Dawn continues that masterstroke of film-making by not only continuing Caesar it's hero, but also by featuring the apes, not the humans, as the main characters.

The movie has some tense ups and downs, and I even found myself tearing up at parts (something Rise also got me to do). The emotional tension is amp'd as we watch Caesar's worlds—the one in which he intentionally created and the one that was unintentionally made in his wake—collide in a catastrophe that threatens both. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is not a story of peaceful apes threatened by aggressive, gun-toting humans, it is Caesar's King Lear. He struggles to maintain a kingdom based on his level-headed and logical philosophies against threats from without and within that unknowingly work together to plunge both apes and humans into total barbarity. The brilliance of this movie comes from its ability to pull us into that struggle and make it our own. I found myself captivated from the start and was sad to see it end simply because I was enjoying the emotional ride so much. I can't wait for the next one (that I hope they're making). This is going to be a must-own for my video collection and I highly recommend going out to see it as soon as possible.


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