The film takes place 10 years after the events of Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Caesar (Andy Serkis, an actor wearing a motion capture suit) has consolidated his ape regime to a park near San Francisco, while becoming a father of two. Unleashed during the closing credits of Rise, the simian flu has devastated the human population, who now live in disconnected city-states.
While on a scouting mission, Malcolm (Jason Clarke) and his family run afoul of Koba (Toby Kebbell), Caesar’s scarred right hand simian, who holds a grudge against all humans. While Caesar seeks a peaceful resolution to the conflict, Koba’s paranoia antagonizes the situation.
With a small amount of dialogue for an action movie, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is based on an intelligent screenplay. The motivations are clear and concise; both humans and apes struggle for the same goals, protecting one’s family. One relates to the struggles of both Malcolm and Caesar.
Given his work as Gollum, King Kong and Caesar, Andy Serkis’ performance should be considered for an Academy Award. Despite the special digital effects, Serkis manages to invest some heart into Caesar, while revealing character maturity from the last movie. I can’t wait to see how Caesar evolves in the next Planet of the Apes movie.
This film is a visual treat. Director Matt Reeves makes use of light and shadows to support the symbolism of the relationship between man and ape. Koba is definitely the best villain of the summer. The street battle between the militia and apes on horseback is worth the price of admission.