Review: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

July 19, 2014

Holy Ape-Man! Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was seriously one of the most gripping, edge-of-my-seat movies I’ve seen in a long time! A well-deserved 91% rating from Rotten Tomatoes, in my opinion. If you are not familiar with the franchise, it began in the 1960s with the first film adaptation created in 1968 called Planet of the Apes. Though different film adaptations have centered on different parts of the story, the main focus is that of a world where apes rule and behave like their human counterparts. (via MediaCircus)

I recommend watching Rise of the Planet of the Apes before starting this sequel. Though it’s not completely necessary in order to follow the storyline, Dawn does reference the previous movie that I think you’ll find more sentimental if you know where that reference came from.

Dawn takes place approximately 10 years after the ALZ-113 drug has been released into the public. Apes that have been affected by this drug have been given increased intelligence while most humans exposed to it became ill and died. A small city of humans still alive in San Francisco has survived due to a genetic immunity to the drug. In order to maintain their city, the survivors must find another source of power as their fuel supplies are quickly depleting. A group of humans, led by a man named Malcolm (Jason Clarke) head towards a hydroelectric dam near Ape territory to try to generate power for the city.

The humans accidentally wander into the Ape territory where one of the humans, Carver (Kirk Acevedo) is surprised by two chimps, Ash and Blue Eyes. Panicked, Carver shoots Ash and wounds him. Caesar (Andy Serkis), the leader of the apes and the original ape who gave rise to his pack’s increased intelligence, orders the humans to leave. He tells the humans that the Apes do not want war; however they will fight to defend their home if necessary.

The humans, of course, still need power. Malcolm convinces the leader of the humans, Dreyfus (Gary Oldman), to let him reconcile with the apes in order to gain access to the hydroelectric dam. They are given three days to attempt this. Malcolm and a group of humans go back to Ape territory. Malcolm goes into the Ape village alone and speaks to Caesar, who allows the humans to work on the dam, only if they surrender their guns. Both the humans and the Apes are distrustful of each other, but slowly gain acceptance as they all work on the dam together. Carver conceals a gun in his possession and nearly loses the Apes’ trust when Caesar discovers Carver’s betrayal. However, trust is once again restored when one of the humans, Ellie (Keri Russell) saves Caesar’s ill mate with antibiotics.

Meanwhile, Koba (Toby Kebbell), a scarred bonobo who hates humans for using him in experiments, spies on the human city and discovers an armory of weapons. He confronts Caesar and questions his authority and his love for humans. Caesar nearly beats Koba to death but stops himself. Fueled by his grudge against humans, Koba goes back to the armory to steal an assault rifle and murders the human guards.

The dam is eventually fixed and power is restored to the city. During a celebration in Ape territory, Koba secretly sets fire to the village. As the flames ensue, Koba and Caesar lock eyes and Koba shoots Caesar with the rifle. He blames Malcolm’s group for destroying their home and killing Caesar in order to start a war between humans and apes.

I won’t spoil the rest for you, but this movie is definitely a must-see. The motion capture technology used in this film is simply amazing, not to mention the talented actors who played the apes.

 via Youtube

They really did an astounding job capturing the movements and behavior of apes while still making them very human-like and relatable. I know it’s not surprising that a war would ensue between humans and apes, but I still couldn’t help but feel so sad while watching this film. You’re basically watching a tragedy unfold and I personally feel a giant tug on my heart strings when I know something bad is inevitably going to happen.

Regardless, this movie gets a thumbs up. I’m excited to see how the rest of it will unfold in the later movies! I hear the next installment will be released in 2016?? (via Twitter)

Hilda Tam

Chixelate author.


  1. This is a very well-written review! I've been hearing lots of good things about this movie. Will definitely check it out!

    1. Thank you! Yes, I definitely recommend watching it! These reboots have been really awesome compared to the remake with Mark Wahlberg. They're written so intelligently and are very story-driven.