Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, film review: Super simians outshine bland humans

(12A). Dir. Matt Reeves; Starring Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, 130mins
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The Independent Culture

The latest entry in the man-versus-apes film series is set a mere "10 winters" after the events of 2011's reboot, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, yet the odds have already tipped in the favour of our great ape cousins. We've got the guns, but they've got the numbers.

Simian flu has decimated humanity, and while there is a functioning community of survivors barricaded in an armoury in San Francisco, they are running out of fuel.

And access to a nearby hydroelectric dam requires an excursion into the wooded territory ruled by Caesar, the genetically modified intelligent chimpanzee hero of the previous film.

As anyone with even the most cursory knowledge of sci-fi is aware, humanity and the ape's burgeoning civilisation will not prove able to peaceably co-exist.

What is, perhaps, surprising, is the way the film aligns our sympathies with the apes. Once again, Caesar is the most fascinating and well-drawn character. His Iago-ish companion Koba is a close second.


With its brilliant special effects work, its detailing of the burgeoning of simian culture and social structures, and the mere sight of talking apes on horseback, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes questions the validity of our assumptions about human exceptionalism in a way that is both chilling and thrilling.

The only pity is that it rather cheats, by making the human characters so bland, and leaving the detail of the post-apocalyptic human society so sketchy.