As Rise of the Planet of the Apes draws to a close, there are but a few things separating man and ape; the humans have guns and the apes have their unity. In the franchise’s second instalment these separations begin to merge and weaken. Weaponry soon finds its way into the animal kingdom and trust within the ape community begins to fall apart. Although there is a faint, human-driven plot here, the film’s main focus is on the politics of the apes’ world. Caesar’s leadership is tested and tried when human’s find themselves trespassing on the home the apes have made for themselves. Set a decade after the first film, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes tests the strength of a community which threatens to become a dictatorship. The human race has been left greatly reduced since their exposure to a virus that gave the apes intelligence and emotion but remains lethal to certain blood groups of man. Both civilisations collide when humans come looking for an alternate power source that could prevent their extinction. Both parties want peace, both dread war, but both fear defeat. The apes’ leader does not want to harm humanity but some of his followers doubt his understanding of the human race. Tensions rise and several misunderstandings lead to great chaos.
Driving the mayhem forward is director Matt Reeves who brings the same thrills and atmosphere that Rupert Wyatt created in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Reeves understands what made the first film so great and, although the same clichés that crept into the first movie make their way back into the second, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is as enjoyable as its predecessor and brings even more scope to the story. Although our sequel starts afresh with its human characters, the bonds we built with the apes in Rise of the Planet of the Apes are only strengthened here. We return to the empathetic Caesar who has grown in intelligence and vision. Other apes that Caesar rescued have also grown, but not in similar ways. Where Caesar remains tolerant of the human race, Koba desires revenge for his previous suffering. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a little over-stretched and occasionally swerves into territory a little too familiar to Disney’s The Lion King, but it still does its franchise proud and continues to develop the interesting discussion of the ethics of war, weaponry, race and injustice that the first chapter introduced. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes cleans up the few messy errors made in part one and continues along a sturdier path towards a finale that we’re yet to witness. Besides the excitement, drama and tragedy Dawn of the Planet of the Apes brings, it also gets us to root against the human race, to a certain degree – and that’s pretty impressive.
Thanks for reading and let’s all keep supporting our beloved film industry.