I have to confess something before I talk about this movie.
I didn’t see Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
I went in to see the movie because a friend wanted to see it and I enjoy going to the movies. I didn’t really have any expectations and hoped for something entertaining. What I discovered was a movie with both a brain and heart.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes picks up ten years after the first. The virus that up-lifted Caesar and the other simians has spread across the globe and devastated the human population. Those that weren’t killed by the virus engaged in bloody in-fighting that pushed humanity to the brink of extinction.
This movie shows us the the society that Caesar has created over the decade that the world has collapsed. The apes have set up a home in the Muir woods which has grown despite the chaos that has spread in their evolution. Caesar’s family is growing and undergoing the same problems that a human family undergoes during this process.
We are shown a human family that has survived the apocalypse as well. Their trials and tribulations provide a mirror to show how similar humans and these arisen apes are despite both sides believing that they are the superior creature on the planet.
The story that unfolds serves to highlight how both humans and apes are similar, both in their strengths and in their weakness.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes tackles big ideas. It deals with family,war, discrimination, empathy, learning, and betrayal to name a few. It does this without ever feeling condescending or preachy. It has a message to share but it doesn’t beat you over the head with it. Instead, much like the apes in the movie, it holds it up in an outstretched hand. It is there for you to take if you wish.
Throughout the movie, I was wondering when the other should would drop and we would see them falling more into the style of the Planet of the Apes movie that had featured Mark Wahlberg. I has happy that this never occurred. The director had charted a course to get us to the world in line with the original Planet of the Apes and he does so in a way that does not compromise the intelligence or heart that is established at the outset of this movie.
If you are a fan of Planet of the Apes I can not recommend this movie enough. If you haven’t seen the first movie, you can easily watch this one without feeling lost. You will just lack a deeper connection to some of the characters but will still come to love them all the same.