This latest film in the Planets of the Apes franchise picks up about a decade after the 2011 Rise of the Planet of the Apes. The world’s population has been decimated by the “simian flu”, a virus that spread from a laboratory all over the world. Now only a few survivors, conveniently genetically immune to the virus, are trying to beat extinction by banding together in once thriving metropolis.
In one of these hubs, former San Francisco, Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) is trying to keep the moral up by planning to get electricity back. An old nearby dam is just what they need, so a scouting team, led by good guy Malcolm (Jason Clark) is sent out into the nearby woodlands to check it out.
As they hike up an old trail they stumble upon an ape colony, not unlike what you’d expect from early human settlers, led by Caesar (Andy Serkis). Caesar, whose IQ was chemically increased in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, is now a husband, father and the leader of his fellow enhanced primates.
However the simple dream that humans and apes can live peacefully side-by-side is soon destroyed when the trigger-happy Carver (Kirk Acevedo) messes up and Caesers right-hand ape Koba (Toby Kebbell) comes up with his own plan in a bid for power.
Soon a fight for survival ensues, with good and bad battling it out. And since we all know about the Charlton Heston movies ape-topia isn’t that far away.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes doesn’t have much story to tell but does depict an interesting inside view into what a fictional, intelligent ape community might look like. In particularly the opening group hunting scene is very well done.
However the need for 3D is questionable, as director Matt Reeves never really makes use of it and the film is perfectly fine without. This isn’t really surprising considering Cloverfield is the only action movie he has directed so far.
What does strike as a little odd is that this summer blockbuster doesn’t really have many big name actors to support the marketing. Clark is know for his supporting roles, and is more often than not forgettable. His love interest Elli is played by Keri Russell, also more of a B-list celebrity. Only Oldman and Serkis are big names but with all the CGI you can’t help but think it’s more the computer acting than Serkis and Oldman only has limited screen time.
Over all Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a big spectacle with very little substance. But it is a prequel to a well-known story and that does limit how far and in what direction the story can go. However if you enjoy ape on man combat an, some clever visuals and lots of apes screaming buy some popcorn and enjoy watching the end of humanity as we know it.