Starring: Gary Oldman, Jason, Clarke, Keri Russell, Andy Serkis
Directed by: Matt Reeves
Running Time: 130 minutes
Aside from X-Men: Days of Future Past, I was really looking forward to this movie. I don't think I reviewed the first movie, but it was an exciting installment to a well known and very established franchise.
In 2016, ALZ-113 virus causes the downfall of human civilization. Ten years later, the residents of San Francisco who are immune to the virus are guarded by a guarded tower and barricade from the rest of civilization as well as a community of apes lead by Cesar. A small group of humans led by Malcolm search near Cesar's territory in search of a hydroelectric dam to power what is left of their city, but out of fear Blue Eyes, Cesar's son, is injured by a bullet. Cesar and his group pay a visit to the humans to maintain the division between the two groups, but Malcolm returns to their territory in reconciliation and permission to repair the hydroelectric dam.
Honestly, I don't think I've seen the first movie since it was released in theaters and I'm surprised at how much I remember from it. If you haven't seen Rise of the Planet of the Apes, you'll still be able to understand the sequel, but seriously...why would you want to skip it!? Without losing any sort of momentum, Dawn keeps perfect pace and entertainment throughout its slightly 2 hour runtime without a dull moment, which is a huge plus nowadays. The story has a very basic concept that could easily become monotonous, but the execution and characters keep the content fresh and leaves the audience wanting more. In short, it does everything you want in a prequel and more. It supplements the franchise and perhaps, at least in any case, make you want to watch what will inevitably be the future [i.e. the original Ape franchise].
A few points I want to mention without spoiling the movie are the parallels and character focus on the movie. One goal the plot wants to convey is that apes and humans are not that different. They both have a home and family/community they want to protect and provide for in any means necessary. This shown through parallels using character traits on both sides and situations they face like the potential of losing a loved one. I really enjoyed these parallels throughout the movie. They really enhance the plot, audience-to-character relationships, and message the movie is trying to convey. If you've seen Rise, then you understand that character focus is important. This installation made a bold choice with not only keeping consistency and having Cesar as our main protagonist, but watching him communicate to his fellow apes and family not only verbally (speaking in English) but through sign language and hand singals like the military (providing subtitles for the viewers). I know some people will probably groan at the thought of reading subtitles, but seriously...get over it. If the apes spoke too much it would feel unrealistic at this point in time. So, much kudos to the director on the bold decision. Lastly, I like that the movie kept its focus on Cesar's development and wasn't heavily human bias. I hope this continues to stay consistent in the next installment.
Similar to X-Men: Days of Future Past, I really have no major complaints with this film. The CGI wa really well done and at times I caught myself fearing the apes along with the humans. The tension was well implemented and the characters make you feel something. I'm really excited for the next movie and I'm considering looking into and revisiting previous the movies, even the one by Tim Burton. If it isn't obvious, I highly recommend this film. It's well worth your time and definitely contributes to the franchise in a very good way.
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