10 years after the end of “Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes,” Simian Flu has killed 99.8% of the humans, putting people in a new Dark Age.   As the humans struggle to survive, apes, under the leadership of Caesar (played by Andy Serkis), thrive in the new world order.  It is the “Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes.”

It is remarkable to see what the apes have created in 10 years: a home within a forest; a school that teaches young apes sign language; Caesar having the ability to speak; and a set of laws that apes have given themselves, such as “ape not kill ape.”

For a decade, Serkis and his group of hundreds of evolving apes haven’t had contact with humans, assuming all people have died.  This assumption is quickly proven wrong when two apes run into a small group of humans, resulting in an injury to an ape and fueling more distrust between the two species.  But a human, played by Jason Clarke, makes a plea to Serkis to allow the humans to work in ape territory so that the humans can get back electric power and have some semblance of civilization back.

After discussing the delicate situation with his inner circle of apes, Serkis decides to help the humans instead of making war with them.  Serkis not only hopes of a peaceful future with the humans, he’s also aware that the humans still have guns; and war with the humans can mean total destruction for the apes.  Unfortunately, his right-hand-ape, Koba, is not of the same mindset; and Koba’s hatred for all humans will make him do whatever it takes to destroy the fragile peace so that an all out war against the human survivors will be triggered.

One memorable, movie moment of “Dawn…” is the scene when we hear Caesar speak for the first time.  He screams the word in anger at the first humans he has seen in a decade, so it is not only shocking, but frightening to hear.

Another of my memorable moments of this movie is the scene when Serkis is telling his son — through sign language — that Serkis was wrong in thinking that apes were morally superior to humans.  Now Serkis realizes that ape has more in common with people than he previously thought, obviously referring to the evil in their hearts.

My most memorable, movie moment of “Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes” is the scene immediately before Koba leads an attack against the human city.  The humans, alerted to the impending assault, have manned their towers and gates, heavily armed with automatic rifles, machine-guns, and grenade launchers.  They wait and stare at the open road that leads to their city.  It is quiet, but it is only the calm before the storm.  Beyond where the humans’ lights can reach, the sounds of hundreds of apes screaming slowly becomes audible.

I have seen every “Planet Of The Apes” movie, and this is the best of them.  From the beginning, I was amazed.  Yes, “Dawn…” doesn’t have the “holy s*#t” surprise ending of the first movie (the 1968 version, not the reboot), but it does rival the first movie’s social commentaries; and of course, it crushes the first movie when it comes to action and special effects.

One final thought: watch and listen carefully during the scene when the apes were discussing what they should do with the newly discovered humans.   I immediately thought that this probably played out hundreds of years ago when Native Americans were discussing what to do with the newly discovered white settlers on their lands.

— M

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