(WARNING! VERY MILD SPOILERS AHEAD! READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!)
PLANET OF THE APES (1968) starring Charleton Heston is without a doubt my all-time favorite film – therefore it was with a bit of trepidation that I initially approached 2011’s RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. I was pleasantly surprised with that one, and therefore looked forward to seeing the storyline continued in this sequel. I was a little concerned when I heard a different director was handling this film, but turns out I needn’t have worried. DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES is a worthy successor.
Directed by Matt Reeves – best known for CLOVERFIELD and LET ME IN – Dawn picks up ten years after the events of the first film. If you have not seen the original you will still be able to follow along, but I’d suggest watching Rise first, as there are some scenes that play better that way.
A killer virus, known as the Ape Flu (artificially created in a laboratory), has wiped out most of mankind. The apes, led by Ceaser, are now living peacefully in the forest outside San Francisco. They have built a thriving community and communicate primarily through sign language. At least some of the apes can speak as well, but most prefer to communicate silently.
It has been three years since they’ve seen any humans, and they are almost certain they’re all dead – until a small group of them show up in the woods one afternoon, and an ape is accidentally shot. The two societies suddenly come face to face and each tries to overcome its fears and prejudices to coexist. The humans want to get an electrical generator at a dam working again to restore electricity in the city. The apes just simply want to be left alone.
Ceaser is betrayed by his second in command, an ape named Koba who hates humans and wants to go to war to wipe them out. He sets fire to the ape homestead and shoots Ceaser with a stolen gun, leaving him for dead. He assumes command and convinces the apes that the humans are to blame and they must attack in retaliation, and leads a massive invasion of the human compound. Ultimately, through their differences the two societies learn just how much they are alike.
Dawn is a smart film with incredible special effects. It stars Jason Clarke, Keri Russell, Gary Oldman, and Andy Serkis. James Franco, star of Rise, appears briefly in a cameo. A third ape film has already been announced with a release date set for 2016. Hail Ceaser!
(Editor’s note: This article was written by our good pal Larry Underwood. You may know him better as Dr. Gangrene! Check out www.drgangrene.com and drgangrene.blogspot.com for more sinister goings-on from the fearsome Doctor!)