We will not hide that we are big fans of the original pentalogy of the Planet of the Apes film franchise, and accordingly we should immediately mention that we did not like Tim Barton’s remake from 2001 at all, despite the great respect we have for this director. Fortunately, however, Barton’s film was somehow forgotten, and after a decade, he managed to make a fresh start with the 2011 film Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which in a completely fresh way roughly presented the basis of the original film’s story. Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972), which is only the fourth in a row within the original series.
The topic of the rather interesting second and third films of the original franchise, more precisely the films Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970) and Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971), has not been covered yet, and apparently will not be. This is how we come to the topic of our text, the film Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, directed by Matt Reeves, thematically the most similar to the fifth film, i.e. the realization of Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973), but again something completely new and different within the story of reasonable monkeys.
The story of the film Dawn of the Planet of the Apes follows a period of ten years after the events from the previous film Rise of the Planet of the Apes. In a very short prologue, we learn that within the mentioned ten-year period, the country was ruled by a virus that wiped out the majority of the human race, creating at the same time the collapse of civilization in every possible sense. So, practically some kind of end of the world came and life as we know it ceased to exist. The film further follows the small population of people who survived thanks to their innate immunity to the virus and who now live on the ruins of the former San Francisco. At the same time, a kind of ape civilization or, more precisely, a society at the level of a tribal community is developing in the forest near the city. Cesar, the main monkey character from the previous film, is now the leader of the newly formed monkey society, which is growing and developing. Due to the circumstances, there is a mutual distrustful contact between monkeys and humans, which tends to escalate into conflict, and even war.
As an idea of the leader of the film Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the question of whether there is a moral difference between man and ape (of course, this fictional one) stands out, ie. do they differ at all. This answer is reached gradually, starting from the monkey’s belief that their essential difference is that a monkey would never kill another monkey, unlike the human-to-human relationship. In fact, that may be true, but the monkeys in this story are only on the first ladder that separates them from their previous state, a state without reason. The development of monkeys in this film actually symbolically shows the development of man, while man is there for comparison, and even indicates what monkeys will inevitably become after they have bitten the “apple of knowledge”.
So, although the film shows the struggle of man and monkey, it essentially shows the struggle of monkeys with themselves and their progress, which leads them into the unknown, and yet certain. Of course, we are not quite sure that the creators of the film wanted to convey just such a message, but if we were to stand behind this achievement, our philosophical aspirations would probably flow in that direction.
The human characters in this film, in our opinion, are in a completely different background, almost irrelevant, although the story also strived for their development, but not quite successfully. For the same reason, we could not single out anyone from the acting aspect. Gary Oldman has provided perhaps the most uninteresting performance of his career and his character is more or less a variation of his acting as the character of James Gordon from the Dark Knight trilogy. Jason Clarke was quite acceptable in his title role and his shortcomings stem mainly from the lack of elaboration of his character, which could definitely be given a little more attention. Furthermore, we have Carrie Russell, whose appearance, more precisely the appearance of her character, is completely superfluous. It is obvious that Kerry will never shine, no matter how many chances she is given, and that Felicity is probably the peak of her career.
However, when it comes to monkey characters, our impression is completely different. Their characters are fascinating, with an emphasis on the expression of emotions, and every moment of watching them is a real feast for the eyes. We would especially like to point out all the scenes in which Cesar’s domination over other monkeys is shown, which emphasizes his charismatic appearance.