Caesar has been decorated for the hunt in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

Caesar has been decorated for the hunt in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

Reel Reviews: Apes don’t monkey around

Apes want no war with humans, but apes will fight in the Dawn of The Planet of the Apes.

  • Jul. 18, 2014 5:00 a.m.

After an infectious disease seems to have wiped out the entire human species, an overgrown Earth belongs to the animals.

Near San Francisco, the chimpanzee Caesar leads his kingdom of super-smart apes through a relatively peaceful existence in the forest.

That peace would continue if it wasn’t for the fact that small pockets of humans, resistant to the virus, have survived and are about infringe on ape property.

We say, “Apes want no war with humans, but apes will fight.”

TAYLOR: Mr. Howe has taken his family on a summer vacation, so I am left to fend for myself. I didn’t even bother to take a guest to the film to help me review it. Call me selfish if you like… I was really looking forward to this film. I enjoyed the first Rise of the Planet of the Apes. I think Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is even better.

Where the first film explained the creation of the drug that gave the apes their humanistic intelligence, emotions, language and even art, the second film shows you the pitfalls of society. (Yes, it’s another film to make you feel guilty about being human.) Only with this film, the shame is shared. After all, these apes aren’t monkeying around. They get dirty just as we do.

TAYLOR: I know what you mean; you are selfish and perhaps have a bit of a split personality. However, I agree with you. This is a film that has more meat on its bones than the first. We are getting to the crux of the matter, essentially that there are good and bad apes as well as good and bad humans. There seems to be a consensus that living together in peace is possible when expressed by words, but a little more difficult to achieve in deed, mostly due to the warrior mentality.

It was interesting to me that Caesar, a leader trusted and respected even by his most fierce generals, was unable to sell the peace to them for very long, even when the bulk of the population wanted it. Cooperation leads to benefits, conflict leads to harm, these things are understood and yet ignored, simply for the sake of rage, or so it would seem. The piece de resistance had to be when, in a very human turn, Kobo, Caesar’s right hand ape, usurps Caesars power in a coup d’etat achieved by executing a false flag operation.

TAYLOR: A false flag is when you commit some nasty bit of business yourself, then blame it on someone else, to start a war. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes therefore is a bit of a sociopolitical statement. It could even be said that it is monkey art imitating human life. But it’s also wrapped up in a surprisingly moving adventure about love, friendship, family, trust, and right and wrong.

There are things wrong with the film. Sometimes the chimpanzees seem too human, sometimes the computer graphics are noticeable, but I’m pretty sure this is going to be in my top five favourite movies of the year. Oh, and Gary Oldman is in it, although the apes are the stars.

– Taylor gives Dawn of the Planet of the Apes 4 monkey time pizza theatres out of 5.

The film is currently playing at the Galaxy Cinemas in Vernon.

Brian Taylor and Peter Howe are film critics based in Vernon, B.C. Their column appears in The Morning Star Fridays and Sundays.