My son and I saw Dawn of the Planet of the Apes a couple weeks ago at our local drive-in theater. Having seen the original (not the original original, but the first in this series) when it came out, I hoped the sequel would live up to it. Although it was good and I was not disappointed, at least I didn’t cry during this one.
The movie picks up about ten years after the first one ended. A simian flu, created by scientists performing experiments on chimps, has decimated the human population. A group of chimps, led by Caesar, the first movie’s hero, is living peacefully in the woods outside of San Francisco. They are disturbed by a small group of humans who have been sent into the woods to the river to try to locate a way to get the city back on the grid. Caesar tries to keep the peace between the chimps and humans, but Koba, a rival chimp who endured painful lab experiments performed by humans, has other plans. He frames a human for injuring Caesar, and leads the other chimps, except for Caesar’s most loyal subjects, into war with the humans. A human leader, who lost his family to the flu, does not hesitate to try to kill the chimps either. The movie does not end in a clear resolution; it pretty much sets the scene for the next film in the franchise.
Regardless, I felt like the movie continued in the same vein as the original. The themes that stood out were that kindness begets kindness and cruelty begets cruelty. The war-mongering chimp and human both showed a kind of evil. However, it was understandable to see how their hatred evolved.
One of the most memorable lines in the film is spoken by Caesar, who says “I thought apes were better than humans, but we are not. We are the same.”