Posted by Chad Neidt
Before going into theaters to watch 'Dawn,' I hadn't seen 'Rise' or any previews for what I was about to witness.I had only heard that the last flick was solid and supposedly so was this one, so my expectations were at a lukewarm middle.
Holy shit was I blown away.
This isn't just a summer popcorn, turn-off-your-brain-and-watch-
We start off 10 years after the last movie where we're introduced to the advanced ape population that's built a Swiss Family Robinson treehouse alongside a massive waterfall.Here, we witness how the apes have created their own civilization led by Caesar, from the first iteration of evolved monkeys from the last film.Throughout the film Andy Serkis shines as the progressive alpha male leader who commands deep respect from his tribe.Within the first 20 minutes of the movie the apes mention they haven't seen humans in over 2 years. Until...
...Caesar's son is climbing around the outskirts of their ape-city when he and his buddy encounter...a human?Almost immediately the man is stunned and frightened of the way-too-evolved species he has encountered deep in the Muir woods.After a tense stare-off, the man gets scared, shoots one of the monkeys, and runs off.It's heart-wrenching, mainly because we've gotten a chance to understand the species as an audience, but also because it feels like something I could see myself doing out of total fear for my life too.
Fortunately the monkey isn't dead, but that doesn't mean the whole clan of apes isn't ready to go donkey kong on some humans. The entire Ape community starts a tree-swinging party down the mountain in search of the human threat, only to encounter him plus 4 more. This is where we meet the main human protagonists of the film - Malcolm and Ellie, their son Alexander, Foster, and the man who shot first, Carver.
This interaction is even more tense, as Carver has thrown fuel on the fire to piss off way too many Apes. But Malcolm is calm and unassuming, inspiring Caesar to shout a horrific "GO!" which both alarms and intrigues the human clan.Of course, Carver wants to shoot him, but Malcolm points out the poor human-to-ape ratio and leads them back down the mountain.
I've already given a pretty lengthy description of exposition, so long story short, the monkeys follow Malcolm and crew down the mountain, discover their human colony (right outside San Fransisco where the last movie ended) which is lead by Gary Oldman, and come down to the front gates to make a final warning to the humans that if humans don't bother them than they won't bother humans.
Slight problem though - there's an old damn built by the Ape colony that could potentially supply the humans with electricity. Here's where the movie gets into some excellent war psychology - the humans can either kill the apes and take their power, or find a compromise and co-exist.Malcolm is dead set on making peace, so he and his family volunteer to make an attempt at a mutual understanding with the apes. Unfortunately he has to bring Carver because he's the only guy who knows how to work this dam...
And the chaos slowly unravels.As Malcolm and Caesar start to become friends, Carver is still fearful of the ape collective and pulls some shifty moves that pull apart the trust Malcom has gained from Caeser. This is where I couldn't stop thinking about the movie for days--as it shows how fear can lead to irrational actions, and that's all it takes to tip the war scales towards bloodshed.
Likewise, the apes have their own Carver in a confidante of Caesar's named Koba, who criticizes Caesar for being too soft with the humans. The best part about this relationship is that Koba's feelings are just as understandable as Carver's- he's just trying to protect himself and his species and the only sure way to do that is by taking the offensive and destroying that species.
As you're aware, these movies are titled Planet of the APES, not humans, so it's safe to assume that even after Malcolm and Caesar's earnest attempt at peace, it just takes one loose Jenga block to send the tower crashing down.One very scared, conniving, pre-emptive, good-turned-to-evil jenga block.
What did you guys think of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @DweebCast.
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