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"Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" (2014) Movie Review

Updated on January 11, 2018
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Mr. Richard has been reviewing movies for twelve years. He is currently working on a PhD in philosophy at University of Dallas.

4 out of 5 stars


"The Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" is an impressive film on a number of fronts. The filmography, CGI, and sound are beautifully executed. The CGI effects help rather than hinder the performances of the "apes." Andy Serkis (Caesar), Nick Thurston (Blue Eyes) and Toby Kebell (Koba) -- together with their animators -- pull off brilliant performances. The cast of human characters almost rival their ape counterparts, which includes the great Gary Oldman, but the sometimes phony performances of Jason Clarke and Kerri Russell hampers this somewhat.

Nonetheless, "Dawn" is an impressive follow-up to "Rise" and begins to establish a setting for the original "Apes" movie, starring Charlton Heston. The plot is full of unexpected twists and turns and consistently suspenseful.

SPOILER ALERT: One complaint I initially had was the manner of Koba's death and how Caesar seems to give in to an elitist attitude that deems to judge an ape (as anthropomorphized human) no longer worthy of being called an "ape" (as anthropomorphized human.) Essentially, Caesar here falls into the same black-and-white attitude as his human counterparts, as well as Koba, that condenses that sentient life worth saving to a particular type of sentient life. For Koba, this is exclusively apes that serve his every whim. For many of the humans, this is exclusively themselves. For Caesar, disappointingly, only that life that meets his standard of morality (which is indeed a comparatively generous one) is worth saving. However, I am informed that Koba's breathing is heard toward the end of the credits and that Caesar's character has not been morally resolved after his attempted execution of Koba. I have not seen the sequel: a resolution to this moral conundrum may yet emerge.

© 2018 Christopher R J Richard


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