Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes


Quick Stats

Genre: , ,
Actors: , , ,
MPAA Rating:
Release Date: July 11, 2014 USA
Length: 130 minutes
Storyline: A growing nation of genetically evolved apes led by Caesar is threatened by a band of human survivors of the devastating virus unleashed a decade earlier. They reach a fragile peace, but it proves short-lived, as both sides are brought to the brink of a war that will determine who will emerge as Earth's dominant species.
Studio: Chernin Entertainment & 20th Century Fox
Producer: Peter Chernin, Dylan Clark, Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver
Written By: Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Mark Bomback, Peirre Boulle
Plot / Story






Total Score

User Rating
5 total ratings


What We Liked

A spectacular adventure seamlessly blending technology with humanity in the best film of this year thus far.

What We Disliked

Probably two intense for children under 13, some gratuitous language, and one cardboard character who's rigidity is only made more obvious juxtaposed against the other wonderful portrayals.

Bottom Line

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Posted July 16, 2014 by

Buy, Rent or Cinema

Full Review

In 1987, I moved to Omaha, Nebraska. Here in L.A., the Writer’s Guild strike was in full-force and my agent encouraged me to accept the invitation to go do a series of plays at the only Equity theater in Nebraska. Having played the role of Eugene in “Brighton Beach Memoirs” there the year before, Dick Mueller (owner and resident director of the then Firehouse Dinner Theater) had told me he was intending to do the other two installments of the famed Neil Simon trilogy and wanted me to portray Eugene in all three. My agent was confident the strike wasn’t going to end anytime soon and that, as long as it was shutting down Hollywood, it would be a good thing for me to be a working actor and gaining continued stage experience for both my craft and my resume. She was right. The strike dragged on for much longer than anyone had been expecting and I ended up living in Omaha for two years; not only doing the entire Neil Simon trilogy but also getting to do “The Music Man”, “Come Blow Your Horn”, and “I’m Not Rappaport”. As an actor, it was a deeply rewarding, enriching, and maturing time for me. It was also the time I got to know Murphy.

The eight-shows-a-week schedule of a theatre actor affords a lot of down-time during the daylight hours (“half hour” call time is typically 7:30PM) and, while I was in Omaha, I spent a large part of that down-time at the Henry Doorly Zoo. A fellow actor had given me a yearly pass because he knew there was nothing I was enjoying more than spending 2-3 hours a day at the zoo…specifically with my new friend, Murphy.

Murphy was a seven year-old lowland gorilla.

I could go on and on about the wondrous connectivity I was blessed to share with this magnificent animal (gorillas have been my favorite animal since I wore diapers). The gorilla exhibit allowed you to come literally face-to-face with the gorillas (if they chose to come that close) and Murphy did so every time. There could be a dozen people in the exhibit but the moment Murphy saw me he would come over and interact with me. I’d put my face on the glass and he would put his face on mine; I would place my hand on the glass and he would place his hand on mine. We literally could spend 15- 20 minutes just sitting there interacting like this…sometimes staring in to one another’s eyes…pressing lips against one another…only the glass keeping us apart (Murphy loved onions and you could always smell it on his breath; THAT’s how awesome this exhibit was).  My heart rate goes up even as I write this in remembering the honor of being allowed such a closeness to such a magnificent creature: a closeness that could have never been forced; it could only happen out of an organic connectivity that Murphy permitted (until a blonde walked in! Murphy was fascinated with blondes and the minute one would walk in to the exhibit he was gone!!! LOL)

Honest and organic connectivity between an actor and an ape…see what I did there?

Today marks the opening of the much anticipated “Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes’ and the last time I felt such connectivity between an actor and an ape was back in the days I got to spend with Murphy. Does it help  that I am particularly biased to apes? Probably. Does it help that I am particularly biased to the brilliance of Andy Serkis? Probably? But I love the art forms of acting and theatre (both stage and “movie” theatre) far too much to allow those biases to infringe upon my ability to be honest about the worth of a film or it’s filmmakers.  And this film is worth every ticket it will sell.

I’m hoping “Dawn” becomes the proverbial smelling salts that awakens the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences to the undeniable reality that this art form has now definitively evolved (pun intended) as a medium incorporating, with seamless congruity, the work of the actor and the work of the visual effects artist. Evidence of this awakening will be in the Academy’s nominating this film for Best Picture, Best Actor (Andy Serkis) and Best Supporting Actor (Toby Kebbel). This recognition ought to have happened for Mr. Serkis with his portrayal of Smeagol/Gollum in “The Two Towers”.  There’s no excuse now. And as much as Andy Serkis is the Marlon Brando of CGI acting, Toby Kebbel very well might be the Al Pacino! Mr. Kebbel’s “Koba” is revelatory harkening to the kind of organic ferocity of Heath Ledger’s Joker in “The Dark Knight”…which is not the only comparison to be made between “Dark Knight” and “Dawn”.

“Dark Knight” ushered in a new era of artistic recognition for the summer blockbuster when it was honored six years ago with multiple nominations; most especially the one going to (and the Oscar itself) Heath Ledger. Prior to “Dark Knight”, the Academy had ignored any movie released prior to September of that year (the customary beginning of “Oscar Season”); especially in the category of acting. IF a summer blockbuster was nominated it was usually for visual/sound effects or editing; not acting. But Heath Ledger (with a lot a help from Christopher Nolan who we can also thank for “Inception”) changed all that. Or so I thought. Because Andy Serkis deserved to be recognized for what he did in “Rise of The Planet Of The Apes” but wasn’t. Ignoring him now will be about is impossible as ignoring Caesar’s top-of-his-lungs shouts.

“Dawn” is a riveting, action-packed thriller that can be best described as a blending of “The Dark Night”,  “The Godfather”, and a good helping of “Avatar”-like visual effects holding it all together throughout a seemless marriage of humanity and technology telling a compelling story driven by real characters (both human and ape) whose arcs were obviously taken seriously by everyone involved. The days of CGI actors being handcuffed to the green-screen sound-stage being long gone; I can’t imagine any film benefiting more from the organic nature of the work these actors had the honor of doing (if you didn’t know, their pre-filming work included all of them being together in a “camp”, in character, discovering hierarchies amidst improv which could translate to the relationships in the film)  The PG-13 rating is absolutely right; although the gratuitous “F”-bomb this rating will allow cheapens one human-to-human interaction in a climactic scene (and we don’t need someone to be completely void of any good qualities in order to make them a villian; although that does happen to one human). And while I don’t believe anyone involved in the film had any kind of “agenda” there are central themes to “Dawn” that strike the core of some our most heated social issues; not the least of which is gun control and even some passing glances at immigration and inclusion. Thankfully, the larger moral thrust of the film focuses upon the values of family, trust, and acceptance (not to mention an even higher minded discussion about the nature of good and evil and whether or not intelligence itself brings about depravity versus depravity being a result of Original Sin).

But when all is said and done, I believe everyone who sees this movie will walk away with something of the same awe-inspiring reverence I not only felt when the credits rolled (our audience applauded three times: the moment the credits rolled, the first time Andy Serkis’ name appeared, and for the first time I’ve ever experienced, when the film editing credits appeared) but when I walked away from my experiences with Murphy: when Murphy looked in to your eyes it was virtually impossible to look away as you knew there was something very special going on in that moment of wonder connecting human with ape. “Dawn” captivated me in very much the same way.  I suspect it will captivate the world and, hopefully, usher in the “dawn” of a new era in Oscar recognition for those who are on the cutting edge of this new era in cinematic history….with Caesar leading the way.

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Rick Segall



    Corbin miles

    Great review!

    Stephanie Beck

    Awesome review, thanks!

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