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[Movie Review] Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is the sequel to 2011’s sleeper hit, Rise of the Planet of the Apes. And while you don’t need to see the first one to enjoy the sequel, it’s best to watch Rise to see how things are set in motion with the beginning of Caesar’s tribe.
It’s been ten years and the human race has been decimated by a plague that started off as a cure for Alzheimer’s, tested on Apes and mutated into a virus that spread ala The 12 Monkeys during the end credits of Rise.
Caesar, motion captured once again by Andy Serkis and his tribe have carved out a home for themselves in the forest. The apes are learning to hunt, write and while things seem to be calm on the surface, Caesar’s #2, Koba, an ape that was experimented on by humans is circling for leadership when one of the apes stumbles across a band of humans.
This inciting incident while a great way to set things off brings up a lovely point: In ten years you guys have crossed paths in San Francisco?
The human scouting party is lead by Malcolm played by Jason Clarke. They’re looking to power their settlement since their resources are running dry and they need the hydroelectric dam for power.
This sets up a series of scenes of each side trying to trust the other and each side failing because you always get the one “asshole”. Aptly put by the asshole in Malcolm’s group, Carver, played by Fringe’s Kirk Acevedo. Kirk’s characters can’t seem to catch a break, ever.
The settlement’s leader, Dreyfus played by Gary Oldman isn’t Malcolm’s Koba and thankfully he’s turned down to a 1 not amped up to an 11 like in The Professional. In fact, until the end Dreyfus is rather enjoyable and so was the little settlement in San Fran until things comes to a head and the Apes led by Koba attack.
Through a series of events both sides show they are capable of act of kindness and acts of savagery. The most recent trailers show the highlight of the movie with apes on horseback with automatic weapons. There are some beautiful shots in this movie of the apes and you really need to see this movie on the big screen.
Act One introduces us the cast, act two sets things up for act three’s showdown and it’s not the showdown one would expect because Dreyfus isn’t Koba. Instead it’s Koba vs. Caesar for ruling the apes. Koba’s instills fear while Caesar promotes trust.
While each side gets enough time in the spotlight and once the third act comes to a close on Caesar just as the movie began I think the humans needed a few more minutes even if Malcolm’s exit stage left was nicely done, the remaining humans and where they’re going was just left up in the air too much for me.
Thankfully this movie doesn’t have leaps of logic like Godzilla did. It is a pretty tight movie at two hours and eleven minutes and doesn’t try to be something it’s not.
It’s the anti-Transformers in all shapes, sizes and well worth your time.
Here’s hoping 20th Century Fox does the smart thing and carefully continues the development of this franchise.

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