Reviewed by: Raphael Vera
Someone in the film says that fear turns people into followers.
the danger and evil of being a warmonger
What is the Biblical perspective on war? Answer
apes in the Bible
“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:43-45)
About the Ten Commandments of the Bible—GO
Why followers of Christ should use The Ten Commandments in evangelism? Answer
Have you kept each of the Ten Commandments? Are you good enough to go to Heaven? Answer
|Featuring:||Andy Serkis … Caesar
Jason Clarke … Malcolm
Gary Oldman … Dreyfus
Keri Russell … Ellie
Toby Kebbell … Koba
Kodi Smit-McPhee … Alexander
Kirk Acevedo … Carver
Nick Thurston … Blue Eyes
Terry Notary … Rocket
Karin Konoval … Maurice
Judy Greer … Cornelia
|Distributor:||Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation|
Prequel: “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” (2011)
In “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” (2011) an experimental drug meant to repair and improve brain functions does just that and more to a newly born chimpanzee named Caesar who, after he reaches adulthood, uses it to alter his fellow apes in order to escape from the humans and start their own community. The film ends as that humanitarian vaccine mutates into a deadly virus that sweeps the globe threatening to wipe mankind off the face of the Earth.
2014’s “Dawn of The Planet of the Apes” is the sequel that picks up ten (10) years in the future with Caesar leading his intelligent apes peacefully and apart from the humans in the forest in the Bay area. Meanwhile, the virus has already taken the lives of untold billions of humans, as only 1-in-500 have proved genetically resistant to it. Included among the survivors in the city are Malcolm (Jason Clarke), Ellie (Keri Russell) a former nurse for the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and his son Alex (Kodi Smit-McPhee). Part of a survivors camp led by a man named Dreyfus (Gary Oldman), it is their job to see if they can make a former hydroelectric dam operational—a dam that happens to be right in Caesar’s territory.
Can apes and humans cooperate to survive on a devastated Earth? Many survivors blame the apes for the killer virus, while a few, like Ellie, know the truth, and it’s Malcolm’s family that sets out to win Caesar’s trust. Unfortunately, just as there are doubters on the human side, there are many apes, such as Koba (Toby Kebbell) who feel that only war can address the human problem.
“Dawn of The Planet of The Apes” is a surprisingly contemplative film choosing to focus almost entirely on Caesar, his family and the brotherhood of apes that he is trying to foster, and much less on the humans and their plight. By no means is this a futuristic sci-fi action series so much as a film that conveys an almost documentary feel; as though we were watching true-to-life events that happened to a great leader a very long time ago. That is not to say the film is not without its portion of action, which brings us to two areas to be wary of.
Violence: Heavy. The film begins with a video montage of TV broadcasts that show not only the incredible death toll from the disease but the ensuing panic, burning of bodies, fires and violence arising from the near extinction of the human race. The apes are seen hunting and killing game. A bear attacks and slashes one of the hunters before being killed by a spear. The human’s primary defenses are the weapons they have secured from an armory and are later used to shoot and kill the apes and vice versa. Some of the killings that are most up-close are done just out of sight, but the impact is strong, just the same. Both sides take casualties by gunfire, explosions and being crushed by debris, or, in one case, thrown down to their death. Mostly bloodless for the humans, the apes injured or hurt in battle do show blood and the scars of battle appear still fresh.
Language: Moderate. The Lord’s name is taken in vain twice, “Hell” is used 3 times, “as_” (1), “a__h__” (3), “sh__” or its variant “BS” combined (7), “SOB” (3), and the “F” word is used only once in order to keep the film at PG-13. While not as pervasive as other PG-13 films, the language is sufficient to keep this from being family-friendly.
Sex/Nudity: Minor (a brief, heterosexual kiss).
Four themes with Christian overtones stood out for me in this film.
First, similar to the fifth and final movie from the original “Planet of the Apes” series, Caesar has established one law, beyond himself, that he expects the apes to follow, if they are to have peace: “Ape not kill ape.” Pity the modern producers of this version chose to change it from the original’s “Ape shall never kill ape,” because that more closely resembled the commandment as given to Moses found in Exodus 20:13, “Thou shall not murder,” though the sentiment remains the same.
Second, there is a scene with Koba setting fire to the ape village in order to rally the apes to war with the humans. This is not unlike how the Roman emperor Nero blamed Christians for the burning of Rome or when Hitler blamed Germany’s problems on the Jews in order to justify genocide. Christians and our Hebrew brethren continue to be persecuted today, as this mindset is more pervasive than ever before, and we must stand together in love for God himself said,
Third, that self-same power hungry ape Koba cannot understand why Caesar believes in the humans and publicly accuses him when he says, “Caesar loves humans more than his own son.” Yet, this is exactly what our Lord Jesus himself told us to do, and the Word of God throughout tells us how to treat others.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” —Matthew 5:43-45
The fourth theme I saw as the most analogous to our place as God’s children involved an application of the ape law itself when someone questioned, by their actions, if this meant they are all “brothers” because of their skin or must there be something more? Jesus, as the living Word of God, proclaimed himself the answer to this question in the Gospel of John:
A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.” “Who are my mother and brothers? he asked. Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” —Mark 3:31-35
I was a big fan of the original series and even went “Ape for a Day,” seeing all five in the theater when my older sister took me, and this latest entry bears more than a passing resemblance to the final one, “Battle for the Planet of the Apes.”
That being said, “Dawn,” while a better film in many respects, most notably the acting and special effects which are top-notch, follows an almost tiresome narrative that is, quite simply, hampered by the director taking the subject too seriously. The human colony is almost an afterthought compared to the attention given to the apes. Additionally, having the apes sign language almost exclusively throughout may have been realistic, in a sci-fi context, but it lessened the dramatic impact and made the apes that much less relatable.
“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” delivers an interesting new chapter in the revived Ape franchise, but I feel it fell short of the promise aptly delivered by it’s well made predecessor.
Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Minor
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.