Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)

9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Strong plot with room for twists that were unpredictable, great looking

Rather slow at points

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Studio:  Chernin Entertainment

Genre(s):  Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Action/Adventure

Release Date(s):  June 26, 2014 (Premiere)/July 11, 2014 (US)

MPAA Rating:  PG-13

dawn-of-the-planet-of-the-apes-movie-review-caesar-malcolm-jason-clarke-maurice-chimpanzee-orangutan.jpgTen years have passed since the release of the deadly Simian Flu and now the surviving humans are fighting for survival.  Unknown to the people of San Francisco however is that Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his intelligent apes have been building a society as well in the hills north of the city.  When the humans realize that they need to repair the dam to restore their waning energy, Malcolm (Jason Clarke) and a crew sent to repair the dam encounter Caesar and his apes, but an unfortunate encounter almost leads to war.  As Malcolm, his son Alexander (Kodi Smit-McPhee), and nurse Ellie (Keri Russell) try to broker peace with the apes, Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) prepares the humans for war…but trouble within Caesar’s ranks could lead to a change in plans.


Here…I’m going to teach you to read with Black Hole…not screwed up at all

Directed by Matt Reeves, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is the eighth film in the Apes series which began in 1968 with the original Planet of the Apes.  The movie is a follow-up to Rise of the Planet of the Apes in 2011 and was well received by critics and fans upon its release.  It received an Academy Award nomination for Best Visual Effects.

I grew up watching Planet of the Apes films on weekends and was eager to see the film series return with Tim Burton’s vision in 2001…which turned out to be a horrible disappointment.  I approached Rise of the Planet of the Apes with hesitation but for the most part was impressed.  Dawn of the Planet of the Apes takes Rise’s style and advances the story.

I enjoyed Rise of the Planet of the Apes, but I thought it could be more.  I think Dawn of the Planet of the Apes does a good job expanding and improving on the ideas of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, though the set-up for the film does lead to some slow parts.  The movie smartly weaves a story which you know where it is headed, but manages to surprise with some quick changes and sets up some good questions on the morals of war.


Apes, guns, and horses…a winning combination

The movie is very much a story of Western Expansion with humanity encountering the very “native” apes.  Misunderstandings and communication problems lead to hatred and both sides surprisingly make mistakes in this “first contact”.  The slow and methodical set-up feels tragic because you can see that everything is going to go sideways…it is tragic and cannot be escaped.

I thought James Franco was a distraction in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and he indicated that he wasn’t that into the picture when he made it.  Jason Clarke and his family is a much better fit for the movie and continues the stories themes of family and fathers and sons.  Andy Serkis continues to prove his skill as the motion capture master and gives Caesar a real human feel (but I will say most of the apes feel real).  Gary Oldman generally brings class to a movie, but here, Oldman feels unnecessary and wasted.  His character does little to add to the plot and the role could have been played by almost anyone.


I can’t quit you, Caesar

The visuals of the movie are still stunning.  In addition to the fantastic apes who ride horses, brandish guns, and climb with ferocious nature, the apes have a real soft side that comes out.  Moments like Koba imitating a simple monkey can turn scary and real.  In addition to the apes, the movie must also create a real post-apocalyptic society in the heart of San Francisco which is succeeds in…I don’t know a San Francisco ruled by apes might be ok if it cut down the outrageous housing costs.

Dawn of the Planets of the Apes is good but intentionally slow.  Fans of the series will appreciate this film which has some aspects of the fifth film in the series Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973) with the humans and apes trying to work together.  With a positive reaction to the film and tons of directions it can go, a sequel was almost automatically green-lit.  Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was followed by War for the Planet of the Apes in 2017.

Related Links:

Planet of the Apes (1968)

Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970)

Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971)

Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972)

Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973)

Planet of the Apes (2001)

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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