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  • Rev Horror

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Dir. Matt Reaves (2014)

After the Simian Flu wipes out most of humanity, the separate tribes of Ape and Human threaten to eliminate each other out to gain dominion over Earth.

In a beginning that will feel eerily familiar to anyone who has been paying attention the last few years, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes opens with news footage showing how human society has descended into chaos after a virus that was rumored to have been created in a lab has spread throughout the population. Wiping out most of the people infected and causing civil unrest amongst those who are left, the Simian Flu threatens to send the Earth back to nature, depopulating city centers and causing the newly intelligent ape population to greatly outnumber those who would stand against them. A direct sequel to Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Dawn takes place ten years after the events of the original film of the new franchise, following the exploits of Caesar and his society of apes as they contend with the efforts of the remaining pockets of humanity, both groups fighting for their control over what is left of the Earth.

Dawn continues down the path that Rise started of focusing more on action than on message, though it definitely leans more heavily into the philosophy behind the films than Rise did. Interestingly enough, the original five films did not have much of an emotional impact despite their social and passionate message. Whether because of the lack of connection with Charlton Heston or just the dated social outlook, the Cold War Era "don't nuke each other" message falls a little flat in today's world, though perhaps it shouldn't when we look at the geopolitical stage in which we currently exist. Dawn, however, carries a bit more import for the modern era: evil exists amongst every population, but so does good. Perhaps you can't have one without the other, but it's important to recognize both whenever possible.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is my favorite film in the series so far. There's so much emotional connection, which goes along surprisingly well with the fantastic action sequences. The plot moves quickly throughout most of the film, and there are a decent number of twists and turns that hit pretty hard. Like Rise, there are a bunch of stars in the film that are recognizable from other work: Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, and Jason Clarke are the human highlights, but there are also ape roles from Andy Serkis (who plays Caesar once again) and Judy Greer as well. Character actor Nick Acevedo does a fantastic job in his role as well, helping kick things off by being a total douchebag.

The direction is on point, the cinematography working perfectly to balance the beautiful scenery with the CGI-laden ape army, and the score is the perfection modern-action-movie soundtrack. Dawn is an excellent film all around, and it's impressive effects-laden look works perfectly for the series' pivot towards more action-based plotting than the weird, slightly disturbing sci-fi from the original series. Serkis makes Caesar an incredibly compelling character, the type of leader that makes even a human want to follow him, and Dawn fleshes out his character even further than it already was. All in all, it's an excellent step forward for the series, and it's another one that is an excellent watch even if you're not a fan of the originals.

Who this movie is for: Science fiction/action lovers, Planet of the Apes fans, Hydroelectric workers

Bottom line: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is an excellent sci-fi/action/adventure flick with a ton of heart and some fantastic effects. The acting performances are top notch, the emotions of the film really resonate with the audience, and it's a lot of action-packed fun in a series that usually has more of a somber tone. This one, along with all the rest, is streaming right now on Hulu, so it's an excellent time to catch up with the series before the new one drops in theaters this week.

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