Caesar’s Reign

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

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Director: Matt Reeves

Cast: Jason Clarke, Keri Russell, Gary Oldman, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Andy Serkis, Toby Kebbell, Judy Greer

In a post-apocalyptic San Francisco where much of the human population has been decimated by a simian virus, the apes rule north of the Golden Gate Bridge, which would be modern day Sausalito. These apes are wily, intelligent and they are packing, ready to defend their reclaimed territory.

In Cloverfield director Matt Reeves’s impressive and handsome sequel to the 2011 film Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes shows a different world where the remnants of humanity are threatened by gangs of warring apes. These apes are ruled by Caesar a compassionate commander who has a soft spot for humanity as he was the original ape in the first film.

Into their simian territory ventures a group of humans eager to restore power to a hydroelectric plant in Sausalito lead by Malcolm, a brave and compassionate man, played by Zero Dark Thirty’s Jason Clarke. Accompanying Malcolm is his wife Ellie played by Keri Russell (from the short lived TV Series The Americans) and his son Alexander played by Kodi Smit-MacPhee.

Malcolm and his family have to answer to the leader of the human enclave Dreyfus played by Gary Oldman last seen in Robocop who is more inclined to destroy the nearby ape population than befriend them.

The encounter between apes and humans starts off fairly smoothly but soon tyranny and violence takes over as an insurgency against Caesar lead by a rather mean monkey Koba (played by Toby Kebbell) threatens to destroy both the apes and humans. Caesar’s reign is naturally disrupted and warfare ensues.

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Dawn of the Planet of The Apes is superbly done with outstanding visual effects and a brilliantly executed plot line featuring likable characters giving both the humans and apes equal attention and justifiable screen time. As with both humans and apes, there is lurking the potential for conflict which naturally exists in any seemingly homogenous community. If viewers don’t like seeing Apes on horseback wielding automatic weapons then they best miss this film.

More significantly in anthropological terms this film represents in real and fictitious terms the relationship between two species or them and us and how each group perceives the other. Points to director Matt Reeves who really makes this sequel credible, exciting and intuitive. Recommended viewing for those that enjoyed Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

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