Ape Week: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)

Matt Reeves is known for the American remake of Let Me In as well as Cloverfield. He’s had pretty great success at making Apes films, as he was behind both this film and 2017’s War for the Planet of the Apes. He also wrote the fun popcorn flick Under Siege 2: Dark Territory. Oh yeah — and he also created the TV show Felicity.

Ten years later, a group of people in San Francisco struggle to stay alive in the aftermath of the Simian Flu epidemic that’s wiping out humanity, all while Caesar tries to maintain dominance over his tribe of apes located in the Muir Woods.

The humans are led by Malcolm (Jason Clarke, the remake of Pet Sematary) and they accidentally encroach into ape territory in search of a hydroelectric dam. Caesar’s son Blue Eyes and his friend Ash encounter the humans and Carver injures the latter. Koba, a bonobo scarred by human tests, urges Caesar (again, Andy Serkis) to go to war with the humans. However, Malcolm, his girlfriend Ellie (Keri Russell) and son Alexander (Kodi Smit-McPhee, who was in The Road and played Nightcrawler in the later X-Men movies) become friends with the apes, even treating Caesar’s wife Cornelia’s illness.

Judy Greer, who played that role, has a husband who is a huge Planet of the Apes fan. They had a chimp husband-and-wife cake topper at their wedding, while Planet of the Apes and Rise of the Planet of the Apes played at the bar.

Dreyfus (Gary Oldman), another human leader, takes up arms, Koba goes into action. He sets the ape settlement on fire, nearly kills Caesar and blames the humans. When Ash refuses to betray Caesar’s teachings, Koba throws him to his death and locks up anyone loyal to their fallen leader.

War between ape and human is inevitable, even if Malcolm and his family save Caesar and nurse him back to health. Koba must fall, the first human army must be defeated and then the tribes of apes will be ready for the War for the Planet of the Apes.

Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver returned to write this film, joined by Marc Bomback (Live Free or Die HardInsurgentThe Wolverine).

I dig that the orangutan is named Maurice, which is a reference to Maurice Evans, who portrayed Dr. Zaius in the original films.

The ending is pretty great, too. Koba is left hanging from a ledge after being knocked down by Caesar. He tries to say that “Ape shall not kill ape,” but Koba has already broken that rule many, many times by killing Ash and other apes. Caesar declares that Koba is not an ape and kills him.

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