Monkey Business: My Review of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)

I have long been a fan of The Planet of the Apes franchise. There have been a couple of bad ones, chief among them the 2nd of the new movies, which was wholly unwatchable. That movie was so bad, I had all but made up my mind to skip this last installment entirely. But I figured when it came to Redbox, it was worth $1.62, if for no other reason so I could still say, “I’ve seen them all.”

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was a complete surprise. Apart from the basic premise that at some point in Earth’s evolution, apes become the dominant species, and the leader of the apes at the “dawn” of that dominance is named Caesar, this movie bears no resemblance to any of the other films, old or new. That’s because it is so much better, in every respect. This movie breaks the mold, and reinvents the story from the ground up.

The CGI is stunning. The acting is superb. The script and storyline are excellent. The score is great.

This is a movie that you must actively watch. You can’t cook dinner in the kitchen while this movie plays in the living room. I can get away with that with a Star Trek movie, but not this one. Much of the movie’s important dialogue is ape sign language, some even with subtitles. Not so much that it’s annoying. But enough that if you aren’t actively paying attention, you’ll miss important parts of the story.

Although there is plenty of action in this movie, it is a drama at heart. It is the story, not so much of how apes came to dominate man, but of how the actions of a single individual can change the world, whether for good or bad, whether ape or human.

If you are a fan of the series, this is a must-see. If you’ve never seen a Planet of the Apes movie before, you can easily bypass all of its forerunners and enjoy this movie a la carte.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes gets 5 bananas!

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