As a technical visual film, “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” is easily the best film of its class for the summer. The CGI and motion capture of the apes is pure perfection, especially thanks to CGI master man Andy Serkis playing the main ape Cesar. The animation is near flawless and looks incredibly realistic. The introduction showing the human apocalypse did a stellar job of setting up a very dark and changing world, but the relevance of this isn’t as profound as the story progresses.
What I found most lacking in the film was its lackluster human element, perhaps done intentionally. The best moments are brought unsurprisingly by the apes, but the attempts to draw the audience to the emotional plea of the humans feels forced mostly, and the narrative they present is only briefly interesting in comparison to the apes.
The most interesting part of the movie for me was the politics of the security dilemma presented between the two factions of humans and apes. In world politics, this theory is explained by Realists as the single underlying factor for conflict and war. The uncertainty and vulnerability of each side drove each camp to prepare for conflict until that fear ignited the larger war that we should come to expect in what must be a trilogy of Ape films.
Compared to the first film “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”, Dawn is much better. It has more consequential events with better pacing and structure, more profound thematic elements on intelligence and humanity, and of course the major action of apes with guns and on horseback that we all crave, and which looks beautiful.
Despite being a great sci-fi film, I expected a little more from the film. What it does, it does well, but to me it felt like it could have done just a hair more to really set it over the top, especially with the humanity aspect. Perhaps this will come in the next film. Devoted fans of the classic Apes films from way back may be more enthused with this continuation, as it clearly draws on some of the ideas from those. That said, in the drought of noteworthy films currently in theaters this July, “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” is by far the best.