Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

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A new dawn for a venerable franchise….

We can thank the 60’s for lots of things…..One would be the rise of analogous science fiction, a part of which was the 1963 French novel by Pierre Boulle, which became the 1968 classic “Planet of the Apes.” The latest prequel, and last before a 2016 remake of the original, is “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” where a remnant of human society is hanging on in San Francisco, with the apes’ encampment nearby in the Muir woods. The humans’ desire to access a hydro-electric facility in ape territory brings the two groups into contact, which quickly becomes conflict.

Amongst the apes, the wise and restrained Caesar, played by Andy Serkis, has to deal with the militant and distrustful Koba, and on the
human side, a similar dynamic exists between the near-genocidal Dreyfus –Gary Oldham— and the level-headed engineer Malcolm,
who leads the project to repair the dam. If there’s anyone out there wondering how a random criminal act in a real-world middle eastern country today can degenerate into a full-scale war in a few weeks, this is the movie that, by analogy, lays it out.

The look and feel of director Matt Reeves’ film is amazing. It’s nice to see CGI being used for the sublime instead of the ridiculous for a change. It’s hard to tell where the high-tech costume design ends, and the special effects begin, but much as in the “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,“ (the last one), the result is ape characters whose get-ups are not a distraction. The post-apocalyptic human environment has been seen before, but the ape village is striking and informed in its design. If the world’s future is a bit better that that imagined at the end of this one, we’ll be treated to sequels for years to come.