In my last article, I talked about my excitement for the new Planet of The Apes prequel, entitled Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – which is a very long-winded title. I talked about how the trailers promised Gary Oldman yelling and fire. Honestly, I don’t think they prepared us properly for the amount of fire in the final act. I wouldn’t be surprised if, in the script, the final act was just called ‘Fire’ because honestly, everything is burning and it is fantastic.
Effectively, without spoiling too much, the humans have almost been wiped out it seems, whilst the apes are just hanging out in the San Francisco forest. The humans are running out of energy, so some of the go looking for this dam, which is when they run into the apes, lead by Caesar, played by Andy Serkis.
What is interesting is the amount of quite stark references to George Orwell’s Animal Farm, without the whole ‘four legs good, two legs bad’ statement. Having said that, the good guys and the bad guys in this are not clear-cut, it isn’t fair to say ‘apes good, humans bad,’ and the film portrays that reality very well. Yet the most fascinating thread of the film is the clear division between earning power and taking it. The power that the humans have run out of, literally and metaphorically, acts to reflect Caesar’s struggle to maintain power between him and his tribe.
Don’t get me wrong, there is lots and lots of action, but it comes mainly at the end, following the same model as the first prequel, Rise of the Planet of the Apes – also a long-winded title. Weirdly, in this action scene, because of the complexity of the good guys and bad guys, both sides are equally worth rooting for and the film fairly shows what both sides have to lose. Including Gary Oldman’s character who cries a bit and actually seems pretty nervous at one point in the film. I have to say, it is very refreshing to have characters who are leaders who actually seem to be scared, opposed to the ‘I feel no pain’ near-sociopaths that seem to frequent many other summer blockbusters.
Unfortunately – which is now something I have come to expect – the cast of female characters amounts to two. They can best be described by the titles ‘healer’ and ‘mother’, which is literally all they do, but this isn’t a feminist rant and that would be my only source of complaint in the film.
Overall the film is visually beautiful and genuinely interesting. Once again, this installment in the prequel trilogy surprised me. It’s a summer afternoon flick that legitimately made me interested in characters and plot, which just so happens to be a big action film.
Sojourner McKenzie is finishing her first year of an English and Film degree and spends most of her time trying to sound intelligent. Follow her on Twitter @runsojrun