The Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

| July 6, 2014

The theme running through the new movie The Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is that apes don’t kill apes and that humans are not family because they kill one another. The last movie left viewers wondering as a virus called the Simian Flu hit the country, one that was spurred by an Alzheimer’s treatment and the apes had escaped from a research lab.

There is also the lesson of superiority, as, once again, the white man is trying to interfere with the way of life that the apes have made for themselves, all the while surviving and listening to their leader named Caesar.

Humanity has been nearly wiped out and those folks in what is left of San Francisco desperately need power in order to get things as close to normal as they can. But the dam that can help create power is smack dab in the middle of where the apes have set up camp. Caesar and his gang aren’t having any humans coming to rain on their parade. As Malcolm, played by Jason Clarke, and Ellie, played by Keri Russell, and others try to get back to the dam, they are stopped by the apes, and it turns out to be a scary scene.

The movie unfolds with the apes agreeing to help the humans, but there is discord and distrust among some of the apes, who discover that the humans have an arsenal that could be used against the ape colony. The genetically evolved apes flex their muscles, as they take on the humans, even as Caesar recalls how a human was his friend nearly a decade before when the last movie ended.

The movie also has the ape Koba “shucking and jiving,” as he hangs around and lollygags with the humans, just long enough to overtake them and find their arsenal. That’s all good; I don’t take exception to this, as some folks did to the Mudflap and Skids characters portrayed in the Transformers movie. But there are many points that can be taken from this movie to abate the mayhem that is happening in the urban areas of the country, and I feel that they are worth noting.

However, I mentioned the themes at the beginning of the movie, because they are important and in the end the apes stuck as closely to their mantra as they could—they didn’t kill one another, save for a traitor. And they make note of the fact that humans have no qualms about killing one another. If the youth who are wreaking havoc on neighborhoods could just take a tip from the apes in The Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, then there would be less crime in Chicago, as well as across the country.

Now, The Dawn of the Planet of the Apes wasn’t just a deep political statement for me. The movie is the best yet in the franchise. The apes actually speak to one another; the costumes are fantastic! Nothing like the old-school movies with Roddy McDowall. The cinematography is sweeping and brilliant. While watching the movie, at times I had knots in my stomach, just anticipating the wrath that Caesar was about to deliver, either on the apes or on the humans. The film also stars Gary Olden and Judy Greer.

The Planet of the Apes, or some variation of it, has been around for more than 45 years, and it continues on in theaters everywhere.

About the Author:

Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J., is an editor, writer and film critic in Chicago. She is the author of "Old School Adventures from Englewood--South Side of Chicago" and the proud parent of "the smart rapper"--chemist-turned-rapper, turned humanitarian...Psalm One!
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