Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)

Hail, Caesar!

Ten years after the pandemic of Simian Flu over 90% of the human population has been wiped out whilst apes with genetically enhanced intelligence have flourished, building their own civilization. On the outskirts of San Francisco lives Caesar who is the leader of a civilization of apes where with those who escaped from the research laboratory teach that apes must not kill apes. But when a small group of human survivors, led by Malcolm, looking to get the generator in the dam working enter the woods the harmony is changed. Whilst Caesar cautiously allows these humans to try and restore hydroelectric power to the city Koba, who hates humans having been subject to cruel tests in the research facility, is less happy and wants to kill them. As things escalate it seems war is inevitable as there are those in the group of survivors who refuse to accept apes as being anything more than animals whilst Koba's hatred leads to a mutiny.

"Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" opens with a scene of Caesar, his son Blue Eyes, and also Koba hunting animals in the woods and I will be honest my heart sunk. Here was a scene which not only went on longer than need be but seemed to have a single purpose of dazzling when it came to the effects. Whilst I cannot deny visually it did impress my thoughts were if the rest of the 130 minutes were filled with these moments of showing of the CGI, motion capture work I was going to end up bored. Thankfully that isn't the case as whilst there are definitely more of these "look at me" scenes, "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" certainly captures you with a decent storyline.

Jason Clarke in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)

Now I don't know if it was intentional or not but "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" reminded me of an old western where we have the cowboys and in this case the apes are the Indians with Caesar being the Chief. And what we get are some decent humans trying to befriend and work with the apes, some nasty humans who don't trust the apes because they see them as just animals, we also get the mutiny within the apes where you also have the dislike of humans. It is all there and maybe that is why it appealed to me because whilst in delivering this it was making a statement about racial divide it had that feel of an old western action movie which for all the dazzling effects was simple to follow, in fact almost predictable.

Now Andy Serkis is brilliant as Caesar and with the good writing is able to bring out not just the leadership qualities of the character but also the history he had with humans, one of compassion which has helped build his ability to trust man. But at the same time Toby Kebbell as Koba is equally as impressive and brings out the hurt and pain which fills him and makes him unable to trust man. But my hat goes of to Jason Clarke as he manages to make Malcolm a wonderfully sympathetic character going through the emotions of shock, fear but also the ability to trust as he befriends Caesar without being over the top.

What this all boils down to is that "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" pleasantly surprised me as whilst it is visually impressive it has this entertaining storyline which for me harks back to the old western movies featuring unrest between cowboys and Indians. And most surprisingly is that I genuinely didn't want it to be over when the credits started to roll.