Dawn of the Planet of the Apes has something for both thrill seekers and discerning moviegoers – Shakespearean themes go side by side with vivid CGI to deliver a potent blockbuster film – even though its just another mass marketed product from the Hollywood machinery.

A growing nation of genetically evolved apes led by Caesar is threatened by a band of human survivors of the devastating virus unleashed a decade earlier. They reach a fragile peace, but it proves short-lived, as both sides are brought to the brink of a war that will determine who will emerge as Earth’s dominant species.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes has something more to show than the usual whiz bang that comes with blockbuster films.

The film uses the dynamics between two distinct yet related species, both of which are more similar that they would admit. Familiar themes are played out effectively – politics, loyalty, ambition, and the unreliability of those who appear as they’re expected to be.

When Caesar yells Go! It is as riveting. When Dreyfus (played by Gary Oldman) yells “They are animals!” it is thought provoking.

Humans often forget that in the grand scheme of things, they’re not that different than their pets. Yes, we’re gifted with self-awareness and a highly evolved brain, but in truth we’re just a different kind of animal. Like all animals, we all want to survive. And with survival, fear and hatred often comes with it.

Solid performances from the cast help bolster this undercurrent. The vivid visual effects ensures that the acting of the humans behind the CGI characters aren’t lost. Andy Serkis proves he is unrivaled while Toby Kebbell almost steals the show.

The action scenes are powerful backed by a pulse pounding score. The characters aren’t lost in the fray.

On the other hand, the film is just another product cooked up by Hollywood’s new method of milking a franchise.

Its predecessors have big ideas such as racism and corporate greed, but Dawn comes with the usual xenophobic asshole who will ruin your best efforts. It’s hinged on the headbutting heroes trope as males fight while females are relegated to the ailing mother/worried girlfriend.

The action scenes could have benefited from creative and inventive use of the verdant foliage and ruins but you get the usual guns and explosions.

Caesar does have internal conflict, but the rest of the characters are one dimensional. He and Koba make leaps in language development, which diminishes the power of his words on humans. Less would have been more.

These flaws aside, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes made the effort to be an entertaining and intelligent film. This could have easily been just about gun toting horse riding apes battling against the human underdog turned hero. Fortunately, it treats its audience as sentient beings.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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