To be honest, I had never watched any of the original 70’s / early 80’s Planet of the Apes films. Of all the stuff I watched growing up, the Planet of the Apes series wasn’t one. Go figure. In 2001, I did watch the Tim Burton Planet of the Apes remake with Mark Wahlberg and Estella Warren, but that was fairly bad.
A few years ago, I watched the 2011 film Rise of the Planet of the Apes directed by Rupert Wyatt. Starring James Franco, Andy Serkis, Freida Pinto, and John Lithgow (among others), that was pretty amazing. The apes were the stars of the show, with heartfelt performances, and a intriguing story.
The sequel, Dawn of The Planet of the Apes, came out in 2014, but I only watched it recently. Directed by Matt Reeves, the story follows up on Caesar and his liberated apes 10 years later in 2026 in what was formerly the San Francisco area of the United States. Caesar has forged a healthy community of maybe 100 apes still living in the Muir Woods. They’ve built a home, go hunting, and are seemingly thriving. They haven’t seen humans in a decade. As the film’s intro tells us, the Simian Virus spread across the globe, decimating the human population. We do find humans living holed up in a partially constructed residential tower in San Francisco. Eventually both sides meet, and are shocked to find each other. Specifically:
- Humans still exist.
- Apes can speak.
The tension builds among both sides because of mistrust and fear, and also desperation among the humans. The human camp will run out of gasoline in two weeks, and are desperate to repair and restart a hydroelectric dam in ape territory. At the same time, Koba (a Bonobo chimp from the first film, scarred from repeated human experimentation) doesn’t trust the humans. In fact, Koba believes the only good human is a dead one.
It’s a clash within the humans, within the apes, and between both groups. At the same time, there are individuals within both camps trying to work together for peace. With all that going on, to watch the emotions and drama among the apes….. just wow.
Excellent film. I couldn’t say that enough.