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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) Review

By   Jul 10, 2014 03:19 PM EST

Based on the previews, I was excited to see this film but I was ultimately disappointed.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the follow up to Rise of the Planet of the Apes, picks up where the first movie left off.  When it starts we see the news reports discussing the spread of the simian flu worldwide and the destruction of the human race.  The movie then switches to the woods where hundreds of apes, led by Cesar portrayed via motion capture technology by Andy Serkis (The Adventures of Tintin, Lord of The Rings), are hunting.  It becomes clear fairly early that Cesar is the leader of the apes, having freed them from human testing labs years earlier.   Cesar is the strongest of the group and has taught them sign language as a more advanced way to communicate.
Once the "tribe" settles back in their home, a majestic tree village on the side of a mountain, two of the apes go off fishing on their own. One their way back, they come across a human who pulls a gun on them in fear.  When they show signs of aggression, he shoots and hits one of the apes which sets off a chain reaction where 6 other humans and hundreds of apes descend on the scene.   Trying to diffuse the hostile situation Malcolm, played by Jason Clarke (White house down), attempts to calmly speak to the apes and is shocked when Cesar speaks back.  Told to leave, the humans run back to their vehicles and head back over the bridge to a rundown San Francisco.
In San Francisco we learn that there is a whole colony of humans who survived the simian flu because they were immune to the effects.  Hundreds of people living together in buildings wondering if they are the only ones left having lost some or all of their families to the flu.  They are beginning to run out of fuel to keep the colony running and we find out they were in the woods on their way to an old dam to try and harness the water power for electricity.  When Malcolm and the others return and tell the leader, Dreyfus played by Gary Oldman (The Dark Knight Rises) what they discovered in the woods, he tells Malcolm he needs to go back tto the Dam since it is their only hope.  Malcom agrees and he, his son played by Kodi Smit-McPhee (Para norman), his girlfriend played by Kerri Russell (Felicity, The Americans) and a few other members of the colony head back to the woods to try and convince the Apes to let them work on the Dam. 
What ensues is a series of events led by mistrust and misinterpretation that creates an all out war between the humans and the apes.  Violence erupts, prisoners are taken and there is dissention among the ranks in both the human and Ape colonies.  While Cesar and Malcolm wanted to create a peaceful coexistence between the Apes and Humans , others in both camps want to destroy the "enemy" because of their own fears.  In the end any hope of peace is shattered while lives are lost.
If CGI graphics are something you enjoy, you won't be disappointed by the Apes.  Every detail has been so nuanced you believed they use live apes to film.  However, using actors and motion capture technology adds a layer of emotion to the characters that using lives apes wouldn't have been able to accomplish.  The ruined city of San Francisco also makes a marked impression of believability adding to the post-apocalyptic effect the director was going for.
However, that is where my praise ends.  The story was overall boring.  While I felt for the plight the humans and the apes were enduring and felt the internal struggle of both groups, I found the movie to be slow paced and dragging.  The scenery was beautiful and haunting but couldn't hold the audience for the over 2 hour running time.  Based on the previews, I was excited to see this film but I was ultimately disappointed.  C-

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Directed By:

MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 130 minutes
Distributed By: 20th Century Fox

For more information about Dawn of the Planet of the Apes visit the FlickDirect Movie Database. For more reviews by Allison Rose please click here.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes images are © 20th Century Fox. All Rights Reserved.

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