Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and brief strong language
Profanity:Some strong language (SOB, b-word, a-word)
Nudity/Sex:None
Alcohol/Drugs:Drinking, smoking
Violence/Scariness:Post-apocalyptic themes and images, extended violence with many characters injured and killed, guns, bombs, fire
Diversity Issues:A metaphorical theme of the movie
Movie Release Date:July 11, 2014

dawnoftheplanetoftheapesceasarAll hail Caesar!

The intelligence-enhanced ape from Rise of the Planet of the Apes takes center stage in this sequel, which begins ten years after the last film. The virus we saw infecting the human population has now wiped out almost all human life. The assorted apes, led by Caesar, have asserted their primacy over other animals. In the opening scene, we see them hunting with spears they have crafted, killing a bear, and riding on horses. They live in homes they have constructed from logs, communicate — mostly via sign language — teach their children the alphabet in school, and have an organized society, with Caesar as their leader. They demonstrate loyalty and tenderness.  They adorn themselves; Caesar’s mate wears a small crown.

Ceasar is played by the brilliant motion-capture actor/artist Andy Serkis and the CGI work of the geniuses at Weta Digital.  The seamless integration of the CGI characters and the human characters and the subtlety of the apes’ eyes and facial expressions brings us straight into the story, underscored by the immersive 3D.  It is dramatic, not stuntish, with the possible exception of some spear-throwing toward the screen.

The film recalls old-school cowboys-and-Indians westerns, with the apes riding into battle on horses and the humans and their armory holed up in the ruins of San Francisco like it is Fort Apache.  Then the apes get the guns, and everything escalates fast.  The film wisely gives both groups of primates a range of characters, some wise and trustworthy, some bigoted and angry.  Both species have to learn that respect has to be based on character and actions, not on genetics.  The division is not between man and ape but between those who can envision a future with cooperation and trust and those who cannot.

There are some thoughtful details.  The destroyed city tells the story of a decade of unthinkable loss and also of great courage.  A dropped sketchbook conveys information that in a world without mass communications is revelatory.  A long-unheard CD plays The Band and we see the humans react, thinking of where they were the last time they heard it and what the access to electricity could mean for them now.  The humans have the advantage of knowing how to create and use power; they also have the disadvantage of needing it.

In the midst of the battle, there is a quiet moment when a small mixed group hides out together in a location with a lot of resonance from the previous film.  It lends a solemnity to the story, even a majesty, that gives it weight.  Even those who seem from our perspective to be making decisions that are disastrously wrong do so for reasons we can understand.  The action is compelling but it is the ideas behind them that hold us.

Parents should know that this film includes constant peril and violence, post-apocalyptic themes and images, many characters injured and killed, guns, fire, drinking, smoking, and some strong language.

Family discussion: Why were there so many different opinions within both the ape and the human communities? How did they choose their governing structure? Why didn’t Carver want to listen to Ellie’s explanation of the source of the virus?

If you like this, try: the original “Apes” movies to compare not just the stories but the technology used by the filmmakers



  • fanboymanau

    Best movie so far this year!

    • Nell Minow

      Glad you liked it! Thanks for writing!

Previous Posts

Does PG-13 Mean Anything Anymore?
The Washington Post has an article about a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics, "Parental Desensitization to Violence and Sex in Movies," with some disturbing conclusions about parents' ability to make good decisions about the impact some media may have on their children. This is not

posted 8:00:58am Oct. 25, 2014 | read full post »

Is E-Reading to Kids the Same as Analog Reading?
The New York Times asks, Is E-Reading to Your Toddler Story Time, or Simply Screen Time? In a 2013 study, researchers found that children ages 3 to 5 whose parents read to them from an electronic book had lower reading comprehension than children whose parents used traditional books. Part of th

posted 8:00:40am Oct. 25, 2014 | read full post »

Interview: Todd and Jedd Wider about the Bullying Documentary "Mentor"
Producers Todd and Jedd Wider generously took time to answer my questions about their documentary, "Mentor," the story of two teenagers who committed suicide following relentless bullying. The film, which received Honorable Mention for Best Documentary Feature at the 2014 Woodstock Film Festival th

posted 3:56:57pm Oct. 24, 2014 | read full post »

Clip: Tinkerbell and the Legend of the NeverBeast
[iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/ApzHJhZz2JQ" frameborder="0"] The latest in Disney's animated Tinkerbell series adds Ginnifer Goodwin to the cast. Coming in March of 2015, it explores the ancient myth of a mysterious creature whose distant roar sparks the curiosity

posted 1:23:59pm Oct. 24, 2014 | read full post »

Interview: "Avatar" Villain Stephen Lang on Playing a Good Guy Coach in "23 Blast"
Stephen Lang is best known for playing the villain in "Avatar." But in "23 Blast," based on the real-life story of Travis Freeman, a high school football player who lost his vision but stayed on the team, Lang plays a good guy, the coach who encouraged and supported him. I talked to Lang about actin

posted 5:56:30am Oct. 24, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.