Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Hail Caesar! Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes' proved to be a mega success in Rupert Wyatt's hands. The graceful but complex cinematic venture captured masses with its unique storyline. Matt Reeves' sequel to the 2011 science fiction film does not take off to a fabulous start but picks up steam towards the middle and manages to rekindle the magic of its predecessor.

Never to visit

'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes' picks up a decade after the milestone events of 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes.' A new world order in which genetically-enhanced ape Caesar has successfully established an ape colony in the wilderness outside of San Francisco is brought before us. With a family by his side and a tribe to lead and protect, Caesar has made a safe heaven for ape kind.

The Simian Flu has wiped out much of humanity and shattered the country's infrastructure. The few who have managed to survive from the tragedy try to build up a human civilization again. However their main problem is human riots which might erupt if power runs out. Led by Malcolm, who foresees this emerging menace, a team set off to reactivate an electrical dam located on the cliffs near the ape village. When one of the members of the team stumbles upon two of Caesar's foot soldiers in the woods, he panics and shoots one of them, injuring him in the process. Though they have them outnumbered, Caesar does not let his tribe attack the humans. Instead he forgives them but orders them never to visit their village again.

Malcolm is however convinced that he can change the ape leader's mind, win over his trust and allow them access to the dam. This Caesar does though his head lieutenant, Koba, makes various objections to prevent alliances between humans and apes. Caesar confides in Koba that this is his one chance at making peace between apes and humans.

However this does not appeal to Koba who is out for revenge for all the misdeeds done to him by humans. He proves himself no better than humans when he betrays Caesar and later his own clan by heading a revolution against humans.

At first sight

Ape-human trust issues are the center of focus in 'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.' A significant amount of the story highlights the raise in tension between the two species. There is contrast between Koba's vengeful sadism and Caesar's sad-eyed realization that apes and humans have more in common than he would like to admit.

Meantime there is a match between Caesar and Malcolm because both are the peace loving family types who strive to do anything to prevent war. The fact that prejudice and violence lark in both species are a bitter pill to swallow for both of them. Koba's human equal is Dreyfus who has also lost his family due to past tragedies. Thus the groups seem equally matched though it is not evident at first sight.

James Franco and Freida Pinto are missing from the sequel. Andy Serkis gives life to the noble Caesar. Toby Kebbell, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell and Kodi Schmidt-McPhe make up the rest of the cast.

Even though 'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes' is the sequel to 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes,' it can stand alone as an individual movie. Viewers who have not watched the prequel will not be confused because the introduction relates all the essential details. Reeves does not follow Wyatt's path in every turn. His first act has been to retreat from Wyatt's forward looking set up and tone it down to a scenario where apes still communicate in cavemen fashion. - Ruwini Jayawardana