The sequel to Rise of the Planet of the Apes ((although I would have thought that the rise would happen after the dawn? Is that just me)) and if you’ll recall at the end of Rise the apes had escaped to the forest and the human world was beginning to feel the effects of the so-called simian flu. Created by Mr Franco in an attempt to cure Alzheimer’s. Dawn is set after that flu has almost wiped out humanity. Ape society, however, has flourished. And Maurice and Caesar wonder at one point if there are even any humans left out there. They haven’t seen any sight in the past two years.
I really enjoyed Rise, I even rewatched it recently and it still held up well to my initial thoughts. It was fairly intelligent, and had heart. Really enjoyable film, so I was expecting to enjoy this too. The trailers were really atmospheric and augured well. Unfortunately it just didn’t work as well for me. It felt predictable in a way that the first film never did, even though it did follow a traditional hero pattern. I really liked the bits with Caesar interacting on a one to one level with all the other characters, be they ape or human. But the rest of it just felt too forced.
The main plot revolves around the fact that humanity is starting to rebuild and a group of survivors in San Francisco venture into the forest where the apes live in order to fix up a dam hopefully get the hydro electric power station up and running. But of course many of the apes suffered hugely at the hands of people and aren’t all that welcoming. Conflict and tension await.
But while the apes have real character and motivation and you can understand and empathise with them I can’t say the same for the humans. They are shells of characters more than anything else. Which, okay, this is a film called Dawn of the Planet of the Apes so lets concentrate on the apes. And yes I can understand making some the apes the bad guys, because just because you are oppressed and tortured doesn’t make you the good guy. But at numerous points in the film I was left wondering why they made certain choices, which obviously took me out of the film. For instance, why did the female chimps wear stupid face coverings? Or were they just the child/chimp birth team? But then what about the head band yoke sported by Caesar’s female. And why didn’t she even get a name? Also, why did the apes live in seemingly two parent households?
And why was there only one female human character? Who really was the flattest of all the so-called human characters. What was her storyline? To be the hero’s girlfriend and try and get his kid to like her! Urgh!
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a terrible film, not by any stretch of the imagination. But it just didn’t work as well as the first film for me.