Before the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: Review by Barry Pearl

Rather than ending I think the movie begins with the Humane Society disclaimer:

“All animals were harmed during the production of this movie!!!”

I’ve never been able to get people (usually girlfriends) who aren’t already disposed towards sci-fi to like it. And even if they like one picture, they seldom go back to see another.

While some sci-fi can be just fun, the movies that resonate down through the years usually have some moral or sociological depth to them: Forbidden Planet, The Day the Earth Stood Still, and the original Planet of the Apes. Others, including Alien and Aliens, don’t have that sub-text, but are still great movies in spite of the fact.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a fun movie that, to some, may give the impression of containing a political sub-text, but I found none. This is a darn good adventure film for the dedicated sci-fi enthusiast, ‘though I doubt that it will convert many (if any) others to the genre.

The film opens ten years after the last film ended, leaving the apes with dominion over mankind and the planet. A montage reveals that 90% of the human race has been wiped out due to a plague. They even have the real President talking about it, so I guess 90% of the world didn’t have Obamacare!

I’ve heard some people suggest that gun control is an underlying issue here, but I don’t see it. 90% of the population is gone and humans need to protect themselves from attacking, talking apes. Gun control is a silly sub-text to tack onto this movie.

The real star is not Andy Serkis as ‘head’ ape Caesar, but the special effects. They are fantastic, and made as much of an impression on me as when I first saw Jurassic Park. You’ll believe that these apes are real. That’s important because the movie-makers have really humanized them, and they care about their friends and families to the same degree that homo sapiens do. Yet despite that, a war between the two species breaks out.

I hate to say this, but the more apocalyptic Earth movies I see, the less excited I am by many of the action sequences and scenes of total destruction, some of which can be quite boring. You kind of know what is going to happen right from the start. And I’m also tired of the little seeds that are planted to prepare us for the sequel.

However, putting those quibbles aside, it’s a fun movie. Oh, and don’t waste your time with 3D, it’s too dark that way. You’ll see more of the incredible details the regular way.

Before the Dawn comic
Before the Dawn panel

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