Certificate 12A, 130 minutes
Director: Matt Reeves
Stars: Gary Oldman, Jason Clarke, Andy Serkis
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is set ten years after the events of the previous film. At the end of the first film, Caesar (Andy Serkis, Burke and Hare, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey) had led the various apes whose intelligence had been boosted into the countryside around San Francisco. They might still have been pursued, but the same experimental viral drug designed to cure Alzheimer's that boosted the intelligence of the apes was also spread by around the world by Caesar's former human neighbour, who also had the misfortune to be an airline pilot, rapidly increasing the speed with which the virus spread.
This spread is covered in the opening credits. The virus, now known as the Simian Flu, is incredibly deadly to humans with very few people surviving the infection. Those that do survive the flu suffer the effects of a worldwide breakdown in civilisation as many more are killed in looting and violence as governments collapse.
A decade later and Caesar is the leader of a now substantial community of apes of various types, and has his own family. Chimpanzees like Caesar appear to be in the majority, but there are representatives of other simians such as bonobos, gorillas and orang-utans. The apes think that humanity has probably destroyed itself, when a pair, including Caesar's son Blue Eyes (Nick Thurston), stumble across an armed human in their territory.
The film is available in both 2D and 3D, with the 3D version being the one watched. Despite various opportunities where the 3D could have added, it really was not that noticeable, and didn't really add anything to the film. This is not an action film, even though there is action in it. Instead, it's a film about relationships, prejudice, leadership and people - for the apes are portrayed as being as much people as the humans are. In fact, the apes are rather too similar to the humans in some ways, which is a major cause of trouble. It shows the problems that arise when some want destruction, even when others simply want violence. The characters are genuine characters - Koba may hate the humans, but you can understand why and, although his actions may not always be praiseworthy, the reason for them is understandable; Dreyfus wants to preserve humanity, having already lost so much, and will do what it takes to do so. Caesar and Malcolm are two people who could have become friends given different circumstances, but those who want war between humans and apes are determined that there will be a war, despite the pair's best efforts to the contrary.
Very few of the apes have much in the way of actual spoken dialogue, especially at the beginning of the film between themselves, and at later points too, with the communication being by sign language, with subtitles on the screen. The spoken dialogue is reserved mostly for communicating with the humans, and for emphasis amongst their own kind. There is also a lot of attention to detail; for example, in the human colony there are small things like, in the background of some scenes, there are pipes leading from what are presumably rain collectors on the roof to storage drums for water in the actual rooms. It's the little things that can add a lot, especially when they aren't even something that is being focussed on. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a well written film with believable characters, and a genuine story behind it - and the story is clearly not complete yet.