You know the difference between a monkey and an ape? If it has a tail, it’s a monkey. If it’s riding a horse, shooting a gun, and taking over your planet, it’s an ape.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes takes another step closer to a dystopian future in which apes become the dominant species and enslave mankind and Charlton Hesston. Is it more fun than a barrel full of monkeys, or does it deserve to be locked up in a cage? Well, let’s take a look at the trailer and find out. (To follow along, click here.)
So who stars in this movie? Motion-capture expert Andy Serkis returns as Caesar; other films include King Kong, Inkheart, and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Jason Clarke is our hero, Malcolm, coming to this project from films such as Zero Dark Thirty, The Great Gatsby, and White House Down. His wife Ellie is played by Keri Russell of Austenland, Mission Impossible 3, and August Rush. And Gary Oldman plays yet another villain, Dreyfuss; his previous films include The Dark Knight trilogy, Kung Fu Panda 2, and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
The director is Matt Reeves, whose previous films include Cloverfield and Let Me In. I haven’t seen either of those, so I can’t say much about how his style will affect the film. I will point out, though, that the writing team from Rise of the Planet of the Apes is back, so hopefully they’ll be able to keep the story quality as high in this film as in its predecessor.
The trailer opens in the Ewok village as Caesar and his family ride through on horseback, thus forever cementing the film’s unofficial name as Apes on Horses: The Movie. We see the apes raising families and teaching school, including lessons such as “Ape not kill ape.” And we thought our kids were violent; these apes have to be taught from birth not to kill each other. But as Caesar says, they have “home, family, future.” So of course the big bad humans are going to come and mess everything up. Oh, look, a big bad human coming to mess everything up. To be fair, both parties look equally scared, but really, the logical idea was to draw a gun on the apes who have lived in peace with humans since they first broke out of their pens?
Soon, the man has reinforcements, but they’re surrounded by the apes. Well, that escalated quickly. “We don’t mean any harm!” Malcolm shouts. That’s why we have all these guns pointed at you. But Caesar comes and calms everyone down. Unfortunately, Commissioner Jim Gordon seems intent on stirring everyone up again. “I know why you’re scared,” he says. Because people have been drawing scary pictures on the walls, including a chicken, a pig, and a monkey saying “SIMIAN FLU!!!” “It took us four years fighting that virus, and we are survivors!” Apparently, we were fighting the virus with guns, because modern medicine.
It seems mankind fears Caesar’s apes because they spawned the simian flu (although I’m not sure how they know that when the only one who knew about the flu’s origins died before he could tell anyone). But Keri points out that the disease “was created by scientists in a lab.” Again, not sure how she knows that, but she’s not wrong. One of the survivors asks who else he’s supposed to blame. She just told you: a bunch of scientists who are probably all dead now. Feel free to blame them for all your troubles. Though I can’t blame Dreyfuss for his prejudice, as we see him crying over a picture of his sons, both of whom are presumably dead. Malcolm tells him all he is saying is give apes a chance, but Dreyfuss replies, “They’re animals.” Yes, animals who can talk and write and ride horses. I don’t think they’re a stranger to basic reason.
Malcolm goes to plead his case to Caesar, who tells him to talk to the hand. Apparently, though, he grants the human an inside look at the ape community, including their artistic talent. I bet if Michelangelo had given these guys a picture, they’d have had the Sistine Chapel ceiling painted in a day. “They want what we want,” says Malcolm. Money, love, and chocolate? Well, what Caesar really wants is to sit in his house and watch home movies of an actor who isn’t even in this movie. But Dreyfuss isn’t buying it, asking, “Are you aware that they are going to turn on you?” Yeah, they mentioned it over breakfast. Why?
In the end, war does come, and the apes line up with their horses and spears and war paint. Dreyfuss fires his gun . . . and then Caesar wakes up, making me think that this whole trailer up to this point has all been a dream. Twist ending! Not really an ending, though, because we get a close-up of Caesar’s angry eyes as Malcolm tells him he has to go. “Go where?” the chimp asks. You could always see if Disneyland is vacant. You’ve got the whole doggone world! Just relocate! But the apes gather for a war council, where Caesar tells them, “Apes together strong!” But if you’ve only got one or two apes, your furniture isn’t ever getting moved. Caesar gives the signal to attack, and the apes swarm the ruined city. Malcolm tells Caesar that there has to be a way to avoid the war neither of them want. But as Caesar says as he performs some kind of mind meld, “War has already begun.” And the trailer ends with an occupying army of apes marching across the city and one ape climbing out over the American Flag. Ladies and gentlemen, we have found our next Captain America.
So based on the trailer, do I recommend this movie? Yes, yes I do. It’s got amazing special effects, good action, and what looks like an interesting story to back it up. The actors seem to be a step up in quality from the previous film, and if the sequel continues to show the apes being smart and thinking strategically, this could be one of the best movies this summer. I may not get around to seeing it in theaters, but I’ll definitely be checking out the DVD release. I’m sure I’ll like it, even if I don’t go bananas over it.
Excuse me while I duck to avoid apes flinging mud at me for that horrible pun. At least, I hope that’s mud.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is owned by 20th Century Fox.