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   Movie Reviews: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
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Studio:
     20th Century Fox (2 hr. 10 min)
Plot:
     Genetically evolved apes are threatened by a band of human survivors.
Cast:
     Andy Serkis, Gary Oldman, Toby Kebbell, Jason Clarke, Kodi Smit-McPhee and Keri Russell.
Rating:
     PG-13
Bottom Line:
     ***1/2

Coverage:
by
Samantha Ofole-Prince

Gun touting, talking apes riding through cities on horseback may seem incredulous, but once you suspend disbelief there is a lot to be enjoyed in this enthralling sequel.

The film takes place a decade after the events of 2011’s "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" which introduced audiences to a baby ape called Caesar (Andy Serkis) who was raised by humans after his mother was put down due to botched genetic experiment.

Ten years on, a viral apocalypse has wiped out much of the world’s human population. Apes, on the other hand, led by the super-intelligent alpha-ape Caesar (Serkis) have done quite well forming a thriving colony in Muir Woods on the outskirts of San Francisco.

Caesar now has a family of his own with a grown son, Blue Eyes (Nick Thurston) and another child on the way. No humans have been spotted in several years and the apes naturally assume humans are extinct until they encounter a group of humans trying to restore power back to the city.

These apes have evolved from mostly mute but intelligent animals into articulate, civilized beings and while Caesar initially wants to maintain peace with the humans, Koba (Toby Kebbell), who was also introduced in the first film, has evolved into a grizzled warrior and harbors a strong hatred of the human race. Scarred and vengeful, he is clearly suspicious of their intentions and sets out to destroy the humans, which results in a war between gun touting apes and the humans who are played by Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Kodi Smit-McPhee and Keri Russell.

Director Matt Reeves, who created a vivid and unexpected sense of realism in his 2008 thriller “Cloverfield” sets a brilliant tone and delivers much more action and entertainment than its predecessor did. There’s irony in the fact that the film is really the story of two families – one human, one ape each fighting for the survival of their species and Reeves does an excellent job in establishing the fragile relationship between man and ape which leads up to an intense furious ape-human rumble as both battle to emerge as Earth’s dominant species.

With groundbreaking visual effects from Weta Digital, there are several scenes such as the apes hunting other animals, which despite being animated looks incredibly real and life-like.

Engrossing and enthralling, this sequel which explores whether apes and humans can figure out a way to live together without violence is the perfect summer blockbuster.

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