• Fri, Jul 11 - 12:50 pm ET

Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes Is Just An Action Movie With Monkeys In It

Caesar holding a gun with Blue Eyes behind him in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes comes out today, and if you like action movies that are performed exclusively by monkeys, you’re gonna love this. If you were hoping for genuine inter-species moments, you’ll have to look very closely for them in between the indiscriminate carnage and gratuitous violence. Sorry.

As far as how this fits into the whole Planet Of The Apes franchise, it comes after The Rise Of The Planet Of The Apesand it has many of the same ape characters, something we’re reminded of about three-quarters of the way through the movie, when we’re presented with a photo of James Franco grinning lovingly at Caesar, now the apes’ leader.

But if you were hoping for more sun-dappled moments like that one in this movie, you’re going to be sadly mistaken. The cast is very strong, led by Jason Clarke and the always-impeccable Andy Serkis, but this film is basically an ultra-violent action movie with most of the roles played by monkeys. Which I found pretty tough to watch, if I’m being honest with you. They spend all this time with backstory drawing the apes as intelligent, empathetic, emotional characters, and then make you watch as they try to murder each other and everyone around them.

The story is set up as a culture clash between these genetically-evolved apes and a band of human survivors of the virus that devastated their population a decade earlier. Each group lives in isolation and peace, but only because their paths have never crossed before. When they do, it’s an all-out war.

Caesar saying no in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes GIF

(via)

The movie is rated PG-13, though, so they don’t show a ton of violence against humans (at least not head-on), but they certainly don’t hold back when it’s ape-on-ape, which for me was no less stomach-turning, particularly because these particular primates were also brandishing automatic weaponry.

I’m already of the opinion that there are too many guns in movies, and that they aren’t treated with the respect that a tiny machine that could kill you deserves, but it’s particularly egregious in this film. Something about an ape pistol-whipping another ape with the handle of a machine gun was a little too much for me, especially when images like that were repeated ad nauseum through the film and bear such a chilling similarity to our nation’s own treatment of native peoples in our troubling history.

I’m fully aware that I’m reading more into the movie than it creators likely intended, but it was almost impossible to avoid. Over and over again, the movie’s antagonists reminded us that the apes are “just animals” when they inadvertently stood in the way of something that the humans needed for survival. They need to be exterminated so that we can live the way we want. We have to destroy their way of life in order to further ours, and if that means waving a gun at a baby chimpanzee that two seconds ago was nuzzling Keri Russell‘s braid, then so be it.

And don’t hold out for anyone to learn a lesson, either. After two-plus hours of watching two cultures try to pummel each other into extinction, the only real moral is “don’t try, it doesn’t matter, peace can’t work.”As an audience member, I found it not only jarring but just plain exhausting.

But hey, maybe you’ll see the movie and love every minute of it. Because what’s more fun than a chimpanzee on horseback double-fisting machine guns?

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  • Jenni

    Okay, but quickly, how many Oscar noms do you predict? Clean sweep?

    • MCR

      LOL Maybe they’ll get one for sound recording or something.
      I always feel sorry for people who get an Oscar for something technical, for a movie that’s completely awful and being ridiculed by everybody. Like the poor woman who got a Best Hair and Makeup Design Oscar for The Lone Ranger. It’s like the name on the award list should have an asterisk.

  • Samantha Escobar

    “if you like action movies that are performed exclusively by monkeys”
    I hate how much this applies to me, but I know you already knew it applied to me.

  • Teresa

    Have you watched any of the original planet of the apes movies? If so, you would know that the outcome is the only one that could happen…because these movies are prequels to what happened in the older movies and in those movies the humans and apes hated each other. But there are moments when you think peace could happen, and there are tender moments between apes and humans, and it makes sense if you have seen the older ones because that is the battle that they have always had. If you don’t like the franchise then don’t see the movie but if you are going to write a review make sure you know why these movies were created in the first place. But then again, I guess another rant about movies with guns and hate for animals is probably lot easier.

    • sean

      The new movies are not prequels to the old ones. It is a total reboot of the franchise. They will lead into a version of the events we saw in the first movie but not directly into that movie itself. One major clue to this is that in the original it was nuclear war which wiped out humanity but in the new ones it is a virus.

    • Teresa

      Yes and the books provide an even different reasoning for the evolution of the apes. So maybe using the word prequel was too hasty…my point was simply stating that reboot or not, the ending will not be everyone makes peace and there is no more violence between the apes and the humans as that is not where it has gone in the books that created the older movies in the first place. There is a reason that these movies are starting from the beginning. And there is a reason that apes are the SUPREME beings and that is where this will go as well…much like Ceasar said in the end of this most recent movie.

    • Alexis Rhiannon

      Apes aren’t portrayed in this one as supreme beings the way they have been in the older movies. (Yes, I’ve seen them.)

    • Teresa

      No, you are correct, because it is the dawn of the planet of the apes. The BEGINNING. Maybe I should have said “and there is a reason that apes (end up) being the SUPREME beings” so that nothing was misconstrued. When reading your article, it seemed as if you felt that the movie would go a different route…or that it could have gone a different route with less violence and more peace. There is only talk of guns and violence and no mention of the tender moments between some of the humans and the apes. If you’ve read the book and watched the older movies then you know the outcome so I was simply stating that this movie is taking you right along that path and showing you one possible way it could have gotten to that point.