Having not initially been interested in the newest reboot of Boulle’s novel Planet of the Apes due to the adamant belief I would not enjoy them, I was introduced under duress by my partner to Wyatt’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes a few days before seeing Reeve’s sequel Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and I am glad that I did see both.
With 10 years having passed since the Ape Rebellion, Caesar and his genetically enhanced ‘family’ are thriving, they have created their own community and secluded themselves within the redwoods of Muir Woods Park whereas human life is struggling to exist, slowly declining in numbers due to the Simian flu (a virus created from the same chemical that gave Caesar his increased intellect). With some survivors of the virus having based themselves in San Francisco, they are desperate for electricity and the only source is a hydroelectric dam in the forest within the ape colony’s territory. Only one family believe Caesar can be negotiated to allow them access to the dam rather than going to war, however, Caesar’s compassion and trust for humanity causes conflict between him and one of his own kind; Koba who suffered years of abuse by the hands of humans. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes presents Caesar’s struggles, as ruler of the apes, to prevent a war between the ape colony and the humans.
A great sense of detail is portrayed within the movie which makes the characters that much more believable; something that is difficult to accomplish when dealing with science fiction as a whole. Furthermore, the appearance of a dishevelled and forest-strewn San Francisco creates a dark yet spectacular apocalyptic feel to the film. Andy Serkis’ return as Ceasar is as strong and as powerful as before; it is easy to forget that Caesar is a chimpanzee as his movements and attitude create a form of juxtaposition between animal and man. Although some actors such as James Franco do not return in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes other famous names have been brought in such as Gary Oldman who plays Dreyfus the community’s authority figure; a similar character to his role as Commissioner Gordon in Nolan’s Batman Trilogy.
Unlike its preceding film, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes explores themes of trust and loyalty as well as adding to the relationship between man and ape by complicating the difference between the two. Rather than suggest that humanity is entirely to blame for the inevitable war between the humans and the apes, the film begins to question whether war is purely a human concept as both sides have characters that want to go to war and those that are attempting to prevent it. With this in mind, Reeve’s sci-fi struggle for supremacy movie adds to Rise of the Planet of the Apes by including themes that were barely touched upon in its prequel as well as continuing themes such as family. It therefore should be seen as a continuation of ideas and themes in which the next in the franchise will hopefully deliver.