Friday, July 11, 2014

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Review - 3½ Stars

This unusually good sequel finds the apes, who evolved in the original as part of experiments to find a cure for a world-wide flu epidemic, living in a colony in the woods outside San Francisco.  They’re smart.  They communicate with sign language, expression, and simple words.  The apes have evolved, while the humans who remain have dissolved as society crumbles.  Those huddled in the remains of San Francisco, led by Gary Oldman, sends a team into the woods looking for a hydroelectric dam that could bring power back to the city.  Caesar, leader of the apes, confronts the humans and scares them within an inch of their lives.  So much that one of them shoots one of the animals.  The apes leader—Caesar—counsels peace and forgives the shooting.  Jason Clarke negotiates with Caesar for access to the dam.  Clarke and Caesar try for peace but their meeting ultimately ends in war.   Caesar–created by Andy Serkis–expresses the emotions of a peace lover pushed to the opposite.  Serkis performance gives Caesar humanity and depth of feeling.   For an action adventure special effects summer movie filled with so much violence I wondered how it kept a PG 13 rating, “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” makes a powerful anti war statement.  Does it deliver what it promises?  Great story telling and message.  Is it entertaining?  Thrilling.  Is it worth the price of admission?  One of the summer’s best.