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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes | Movie Review

Updated on December 5, 2014


As always, we have to wait for a movie to come out on DVD before we can afford to see it, and this one was no exception. We were surprised that it seemed to be released in this format so soon after a relatively brief run in theaters.

We had wanted to see this one, from the get-go, and feared that it would be a dud because of the short duration of the theater run. While it got great reviews from the movie critics, it got some thumbs-down from Face Book viewers, so we were slightly apprehensive, but not overly so.

I learned many years ago not to bother listening to any of those people. Why? Here’s a list:

1) They are only regular people, like ourselves, nobody special or with extra talent in forming opinions.

2) Opinions are subjective, and what one person hates, another may love.

3) Critics, as well as members of the public, are only expressing their own opinions.

And finally,

4) In my experience, my reaction runs exactly opposite to that of most critics, so if they hate it, I’m going to like it--since they liked it, I wasn’t sure I would.

(Sorry, I was unable to find a public domain, copyright-free photo of any of the actors.)

No Spoilers Allowed!

As with all my movie reviews, I promise no spoilers, and warn that any comment containing spoilers will be denied.

There could possibly be some very minor ‘spoilers’ in this review, but only for anyone who has never seen any of the other movies in this series, which goes back to the original Planet of the Apes released way back in 1968. That’s nearly fifty years ago! (forty-six, to be exact!) Anyone who has not at least heard of it by now must have been living under a rock somewhere! ;-)

The Characters

The main characters have remained constant throughout the series. We have the main protagonist, Caesar, and his wife, Cornelia. It is the human characters that change over the span of years covered by these movies.

Also still in the script are Maurice, Rocket and Koba.

Many of the prior human characters are no longer in this version, and to avoid a spoiler, I won’t say why, but if you saw “Rise,” you’ll have a clue.

Following the format of the other moves in the “Apes” series, there are actually two sets of protagonists and antagonists; one on the human side, and one on the ape side.

When Does All This Happen?

In “Dawn,” the time is ten or fifteen years after the time frame seen in the last movie, Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Like its immediate predecessor, it is set in and around San Francisco, California. The exact year in which it is set remains ambiguous in the movie.

There are a few subtle hints, but no conclusive evidence within the movie itself, as to when these events take place. It is left to the viewers to either decide for themselves, or simply become absorbed in the story and not worry about such details. However, the jacket of the DVD does proclaim that the year is 2026, but if you don’t read jacket blurbs, you’d never know. In the end, the ‘when’ is less important than the why, how, and where.

What is Going on, Then?

Since this film is set between ten to fifteen years after the events of “Rise,” the Apes have settled into their own society, but of course, humans with their over-inflated egos are still wary, and some are of a murderous bent. No surprises or spoilers there: it seems to be human nature. Any aliens landing here would surely be met with military might instead of a handshake.

Caesar, as seen in “Rise,” is still the accepted and established leader of the apes, and is well respected and honored by the clan. He offers wise counsel to the group as to the actions that should or should not be taken.

The human population, on the other hand, is not doing so well, and that is the source of the tension in the plot. In many ways, this film offers a parallel glimpse into today's society, and if you think about it, that is frightening. The "us vs. them" theme is all too common in history.

In keeping with the thread of the story running through all the “apes” movies, it leaves you pondering, “What if?”

Cast of Main Characters: Apes

Andy Serkis
Toby Kebbel
Nick Thurston
Blue Eyes (Caesar's son)
Karin Konoval
Terry Notary
Doc Shaw
Ash (Rocket's son)
Judy Greer
Cornelia (Caesar's wife)
Lee Ross

Cast of Main Characters: Humans

Jason Clarke
Gary Oldman
Keri Russel
Ellie (Malcolm's wife)
Kodi-Smit McPhee
Alexander (Malcolm's son)
Kirk Acevedo
Enrique Murciano
Jocko Sims
James Franco
Caesar's original mentor (in a cameo)
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes [Blu-ray]
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes [Blu-ray]
DVD of the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes


As with “Rise,” this film uses motion-capture technology instead of people dressed in ape suits and makeup prosthetics, like the original films used. There are ‘extras’ on the DVD giving a behind-the-scenes look at how this is done. It is truly amazing and fascinating.

The blending of action scenes, with the motion-capture, and physical sets is seamless, as it should be, and also as it should be, is the distinction between what is physical set and what is computer-generated graphics and animation or blue screen effects.

We have come a long way from the original ‘scary monster movies’ in which you can either tell it is a person dressed up, or a mechanical with give-away hydraulic and motor noises. Hiding those noises was a major reason for the development of the “suspense music” we come to associate in movies with a warning of something bad impending.

Have You Seen This Movie?

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Other Details

This movie runs just a little over two hours. Get yourself some popcorn and settle in for a fast passage of time.

Rating is PG-13.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was written by Mark Bomback, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver and directed by Matt Reeves. Musical score is by Michael Giacchino, and was released by Sony Masterworks on July 8, 2014. Production company is 20th Century Fox in association with Chernin Entertainment.

Original theatrical release date was July 11, 2014, in North America, and released to DVD on December 2, 2014.

Did You See This Movie? What Did You Think?

4 out of 5 stars from 2 ratings of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Official Trailer


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