Friday, February 27, 2015

Movie Review: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) directed by Matt Reeves

A decade after the events of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the ape-ocalypse is in full swing. The apes have built a primitive community in the hills outside of San Francisco, where they hunt and gather and speak in sign language. They haven't seen any humans for two years but that changes quickly. Two friends go fishing. As they are walking back they run into a single human male who panics and shoots one of the apes. More humans show up and try to ease the situation. The gunshot is heard by the apes, too, and a bunch of them show up and start shouting "GO!" at the humans. The humans leave but they can't stay away. They are running out of fossil fuels in what's left of San Francisco and want to repair a hydroelectric dam that is near the apes' home. Malcolm, leader of the humans, begins a tense and precarious negotiation with Caesar, leader of the apes. The humans back in Frisco want power at almost any cost (and they do have a lot of weapons); the apes in their community want nothing to do with humans. Can we all get along or will there be all out war?

The movie is very tense and exciting, filled with action and complicated themes and ideas. The apes have a law that no ape kill another ape, which of course gets broken during the course of the movie more than once to great effect. Member of both the ape and the human communities look on the others as lesser beings and as fair game. The leaders work for a more nuanced approach to the others, hoping to preserve peace and well-being for everyone involved. The moral and political tension is just as high as the action tension. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a thoughtful and exciting sequel well worth watching.

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