Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The 397th film I have seen in theaters…

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SO….Good

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It has been 10 years since the events of “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”. Humanity has been all but wiped out by the Simian Flu- a man made disease which is deadly to humans, but gives Apes intelligence. In the Muir woods outside San Francisco, Caesar has created a home for his apes. While out hunting, two young apes come across some humans. Frightened, the human shoots one of the children. Despite this event, the humans, realizing that the Apes are intelligent, send an envoy to them. The humans need to use an old hydro plant in Ape territory to restore power to San Francisco. Although his Lieutenant Koba is against this, Caesar allows the humans to do their work. Koba leads some Apes into the city, kill some humans and steal guns. Koba shoots Caesar and frames the humans. Koba leads the Apes into an attack on San Francisco and captures all the humans and imprisons them. Caesar, after being nursed back to health by the good humans, faces off against Koba.

Even though Koba is defeated, the humans are pissed that the Apes attacked. A nearby military installation has also been contacted about the Ape problem. The last chance for Human/Ape coexistence has died. War has begun, and Caesar’s Apes have access to San Francisco’s Arsenal.

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Andy Serkis returns as Caesar. Even more than the previous film, the power of this man’s acting shines through the CGI. He won’t be, but he should be nominated for an Oscar.

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Jason Clarke plays Malcolm, the leader of the Human team that is restarting the hydro plant. He sees the path for peace between the species and becomes Caesar’s friend. A decent performance. Of all the human’s his was the most developed character, but even then he did not do that much. This was an Ape movie all the way.

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Kerri Russell, my 90’s crush, appears as Ellie, a nurse who is also Malcolm’s  wife. She is emotional support, and healer for the group, but is sadly underutilized.

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Kodi Smit-McPhee plays Malcolm’s son Alexander. Alex befriends Orangutan Maurice through a mutual love of art.

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Gary Oldman is Dreyfus, the leader of the humans. He sees the Apes as animals and nothing more. A former military man, he has the skills to defend the humans and destroy the Apes. Despite this, he is not an all out evil character. He has lost his family and is fighting to save the only one he has left. It is a testament to Oldman’s strength as an actor that so much is revealed about this character with such a small role.

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I intentionally saved him for last. Toby Kebbell is Koba, the Ape that was a lab rat in “Rise”. This is a character as fully realized as Caesar. Mo-cap is going to be a tremendous tool to allow for amazing performances.

SO GOOD. I found it a worthy sequel to the original, on par with the excellence of the former effort. An excellent, yet thought provoking SciFi film?! They just don’t make these anymore. Unlike other reboots/remakes, these films are more than worthy of the “Planet of the Apes” name.

 

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