Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Lowdown: With the aid of humans, the apes lose their innocence.
A couple or so years since the apes took over the Golden Gate bridge in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the clan of mixed apes led by Caesar (Andy Serkis) has settled down at a nearby forest. They have their simple facilities, including basic shelter and education, and they’re more or less content. More importantly, they seem to be a cohesive society where no ape hurts a fellow ape. The only exception is the human ape, but humans seem to have disappeared off the face of the earth due to the disease spread out of Caesar’s old lab.
Naturally, the humans haven’t really disappeared. One day, a small group led by Malcolm (Aussie Jason Clarke) stumbles upon our clan. They belong to a group of surviving humans that re-established itself in what remains of San Francisco and is very well equipped, thank you very much, weaponry included. The catch is, they’re running out of fossil fuels; they need a new source of energy, and a dam located at the ape’s area will serve them well. That, of course, leads to friction between human and non-human ape; and some members of the not homo sapiens side have less peaceful tendencies than Caesar.
To cut a long story short, tensions are rising. Both camps include subjects that are looking for peaceful coexistence (Caesar, Malcolm) as well as those that believe that peace can only come when the different is eliminated (the human side of which is portrayed by their leader Dreyfus, portrayed by Gary Oldman). In the resulting chaos violence is turned towards the inside and all apes discover they can have more in common with those with whom they share fewer genes than those with whom they share almost everything.
The resulting themes are obvious. In the real world we are not under threat from our fellow apes; it’s actually the opposite, with us making sure they are on their way to extinction. The lessons that apply to us are to do with the problematic nature of tribalism, human tribalism. In parallel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes points at the need to keep the war mongers and the selfish on a tight leash while also maintaining an open, pluralistic, society.
Regardless of these themes, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a pretty effective thriller/science fiction/action flick. It’s so good at what it’s doing that the fact it features talking apes, of the non human kind, most of which digitally rendered, gets taken for granted.
Overall: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is your classic science fiction featuring an interesting tale with morals. 3.5 out of 5 crabs.

4/12/14 update: I kept on trying to figure out why it is that I didn't like Dawn of the Planet of the Apes more than I actually did. It seems to have all the right ingredients, so what gives? Eventually, it occurred to me this movie suffers from a severe shortage of characters one could identify with. I mean, Caesar may be a leader and all, but he's still a pretty menacing chimpanzee.

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