Resurrected Living
"What are you going to do with your new resurrected life? This is the heroic question." Richard Rohr

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes


I am a fan of the Planet of the Apes series. I believe the original with Charlton Heston is a classic. Even if the ape costumes are dated and it is a little corny at times, it still holds up very well. I enjoyed the Tim Burton remake even though it was a flawed film. I appreciated seeing an updated version of something I loved. I was pleasantly surprised by Rise of the Planet of the Apes. I was glad to see the franchise was starting at the beginning with the promise of more to follow. These were all entertaining films that I would still watch today, but nothing prepared me for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. The newest film in the series takes it to another level and is the best one yet.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes picks up several years after Rise of the Planet of the Apes left off. A disease that is carried by apes has wreaked havoc on humanity. There are very few humans left on the planet and apes have become the prominent species. The apes continue to evolve. They build communities and places to live. They have developed laws and they teach them to their children. The apes are happy to just enjoy life, but one day the community led by Caesar encounters some humans who have begun their own town not too far away. There is tension between the humans and the apes. Both groups wrestle with whether or not they should trust each other. The humans need to get into the ape’s territory so they can fix a dam and restore power to their town. The apes are hesitant to allow them access. Both communities are divided over how they should treat the other.

The CGI in this film is impeccable. For much of the movie you are watching apes converse back and forth and it looks real and believable. Although there are many similarities between this film and the original Planet of the Apes I believe it is unfair to compare them head to head. They are both great films for different reasons. One big difference is in the portrayal of the apes. With the early film you were always aware that you were watching humans in ape costumes, but in this movie the apes come to life. They have personalities and facial expressions to go along with them. It is truly a remarkable thing to see how far special effects have come in just a few years.

This film probably takes itself more seriously than any of the original films, but that does not mean it cannot have some fun. There were a couple of great shots in this film and one of them was of Koba riding a horse with a machine gun in each hand.


Some may dismiss this as unbelievable or silly, but I saw it as an ode to B movies who do crazy stuff like this all the time. It sort of looked like a scene Robert Rodriguez would throw in if he was directing a Planet of the Apes film. One must remember that this is a film about apes who have taken over the planet and the bending of the imagination should not be a problem.

Why is this film different? Why is it so much better than the others? Other films in this series have made points about this or that, but not like this one. This is a film with a message. It is a critique of how we love to divide ourselves into groups, and how fear and hatred play out in the divisions we have created. This is most obvious toward the end of the film when Caesar’s son exclaims, “Fear makes others follow.” When we divide ourselves into groups we almost immediately demonize the other side. We make it about us and them. Throw fear and hatred into the mix and it can become deadly.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes plays out like a parable of what happens when we create divisions and allow fear and hatred to take over. The movie brilliantly does not define the groups for us. It could be any group, and maybe it doesn’t even matter. People have turned such meaningless divisions as what sports team a person roots for into reasons to harm and even kill another individual. It could be anything, and this movie asks us to take a step back and examine ourselves. Where have we drawn lines and created divisions? Is there fear or hatred in our hearts? Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is an entertaining and enjoyable film, but it is also much more. Go see this movie, but don’t just see it for the action and special effects. Pay close attention to the lesson this modern day parable has to teach us.


One Response to “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”

  1. Thank you for the review! Indeed, this movie offered so many opportunities for conversations on race, creation, violence, family dynamics, and leadership. I loved how you characterized the propensity for division as defying specific categories because all intentional separation is based on fear, insecurity, and assumption of superiority.

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