DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES – A Review by John Strange

By: John ’Doc’ Strange
Directed by: Matt Reeves
Cast: Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Toby Kebbell, Kodi Smith-McPhee, Enrique Murciano, Kirk Acevedo
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and brief strong language)
Selig Rating: FULL PRICE
Runtime: 130 Min.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is the sequel to Rise of the Planet of the ApesRise was the first installment of the re-imagining of the Planet of the Apes series.  I say re-imagining because this series is using the premise and base storyline but gives us a different view of how the story plays out.
Dawn takes place approximately ten years after the first film.  Mankind has largely succumbed to the “ape flu” leaving only small isolated pockets of humanity trying to survive.  One of these pockets is in downtown San Francisco.  Their supply of fuel is disastrously low.  They plan to get the old hydroelectric dam back into operation.
The team sent to restart the dam’s electric generating plant stumbles across apes living in the woods around the dam.  This group of apes is led by the first of the “smart” apes, Caesar (Andy Serkis) (from Rise of the Planet of the Apes).  They live off the land and have become a tribe and a family, each species of ape contributing to the greater good of the tribe.
Sadly, the human who is the first to stumble upon two apes is Carver (Kirk Acevedo), a true coward whose fear of the apes results in him shooting one of the two young apes.  Caesar and his tribe confront the humans led by Malcolm (Jason Clarke) and Ellie (Keri Russell) and order them to leave, never to return.
Returning to the human enclave, the team is met by the human’s leader, Dreyfus (Gary Oldman).  He is adamant about the restoration of the electric plant.  Without the electricity the humans will be forced to lose most of the trappings of civilization.  The humans feel secure behind their steel and concrete walls with the weapons from the various arsenals they have found. 
Malcolm approaches Caesar to get permission to work on the dam.  Despite the distrust the apes feel about the humans, Caesar and Malcolm agree to allow the humans one day to get the plant operational.
As expected when you mix humans with guns and apes with a grudge against humans you get conflict.  No, you get all out war.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is an excellent film that contains some of the best CGI work I have seen in a while.  The story is stronger than any of the sequels from the first series hands down.  Whether you have seen the first film or not this is a good movie.  I watched it in 3D.  I liked the way it looked.  This is one of the best we will see this summer, go see it.
The Selig Rating Scale:
FULL PRICE – Excellent movie, well worth the price
MATINEE – Good movie
DOLLAR – OK movie
CABLE – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
FREEBIE – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn't paid for it.
COMMERCIAL TV – Commercials and cutting to the allotted time will not hurt this one.
FORGET IT! – Bad. If you see this one, do yourself a favor and keep it to yourself.
GET YOUR TORCHES – BAD! – Burn the script, the writer, the director and maybe even the actors!
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