DAWN OF THE APES has great special effects and a wonderful performance by Andy Serkis as leader of the apes, but a simplistic plot and one dimensional characters make it feel like a B movie from the 1950's.
It's ten years after the events of the last Planet of the Apes film. Most of the human race has been wiped out by a virus and until now, the survivors have had no contact with the escaped apes who have been living in the wild. The first time the two groups run into each other, the lead ape screams at them.
Caesar: Go! (Yes, the apes now speak a primitive form of English.)
Andy Serkis is terrific as Caesar, the noble leader of the apes. He had to have electronics all over his body in order to give the motion capture performance that is underneath the computer effects that make him look like an ape.
The actors playing humans don't fare as well, mostly because their parts are little more than stock characters. Jason Clarke is Malcom, the good guy human. Keri Russell is Ellie, a nurse, heroine, and romanic interest for the good guy. Gary Oldman plays the stereotypical leader who doesn't believe that apes are capable of peaceful co-existence.
Oldman: Are you aware they're going to turn on you? They're animals!
The reason the two groups can't just remain separate is that the humans need electricity. And they hope to get it by fixing the power plant that's in the woods where the apes live.
Caesar and Malcom negotiate a fragile peace. but just as there's a bad guy human who hates apes, there's a bad guy ape named Koba who'd rather kill humans than try to get along with them.
Koba (to Caesar): Caesar love humans more than apes.
DAWN OF THE APES isn't a terrible movie, but to me it's better suited to kids than adults. I wish the film had a better screenplay to match its well directed action and great special effects.
Terry Hunter, Hawaii News Now.