MINOR SPOILER WARNING
A War of Morals
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is the second film in the reboot of the Planet of the Apes trilogy. The film features a continuation of Andy Serkis’ Caesar as he leads a new population of hyper-intelligent apes. This film is a strong continuation to the drama of Rise and sets up the emotional climax in War.
As a group of remaining humans need help from the apes in order to survive, this film introduces doubt to Caesar’s leadership. Does Caesar help the humans and risk the safety of his people? Does Caesar refuse aid and risk war? Does helping the humans prevent a future war? Is there any way to avoid war with the humans? Caesar chooses to aid the humans in an attempt to establish a peaceful precedent, but is challenged by another ape, Koba. Koba still has anger with the humans over being tortured in the past and sabotages the mission of aid. Hence, the war with the humans begins.
This film discusses the inner-politics of a new society and the diplomatic issues of aiding a former enemy. It is very interesting and both sides are shown to have a level of merit. Caesar labors over his decisions and is pushed to make very tough ones. The character arc in this film is of pain, responsibility and leadership.
One of the first scenes in this film introduces humans to apes who speak. It’s been years since the Simian Flu decimated the world’s population and the apes have been mostly forgotten. The shock they have when hearing Caesar speak is so interesting and powerful. This speaks to the power Caesar holds in this world as not only the first of his kind, but the leader. His speaking grows better and better as time goes and Caesar never cease to become stronger.
The CGI of this film is an improvement on the last, and the scope of the film is larger than it is in all three films. This is the film with the biggest “war” element in the trilogy. An Ape invasion on the human’s fortress. There are many large set pieces, gun fights and action packed shots. It’s truly an achievement in the art of motion capture and CGI-character-led films.
Overall, this film is awesome. The action is great and the tone is too. The topics are deep, yet not boring. You can side with multiple characters and see reason and flaws in different decisions. The pacing is great and the cinematography is a step up from the last film. Would I watch this again? Yes, it gets better each time. Should you watch it? Yes, right after you watch the first film.