First off, how does the dawn of something arrive after its rise? This title choice struck me as odd the first time it was revealed in the trailer. Third in the series? Perhaps Nascency of the Planet of the Apes… to continue in the regressive tradition.
With that out of the way, on to the movie: it was very good, and hearkens back classic Spielberg blockbusters. Indeed, a comparison could be made to Jurassic Park, but Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a much better movie. A.O. Scott of the Times:
it’s a satisfying movie and an example — a dispiritingly rare one these days — of what mainstream Hollywood filmmaking can still achieve.
And Joe Morgenstern, WSJ:
“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” is an extremely high-functioning sci-fi thriller about extremely high-functioning apes. Some of it may seem silly in the recounting, or in the trailer, but it doesn’t feel silly in the theater.
What struck me as the film progressed was that though you never forget you’re looking at apes, in all aspects of the story itself, the apes fade away. This is a story about warring tribes. I’m reminded of the comparison, as I recall, that Ebert & Siskel made of Star Wars to cowboys & indians movies — settings, technologies and characters may be different, but there are universal themes in storytelling that work well in very disparate contexts.
It all goes to my mantra: story matters. In Rise, the fact that these creatures were apes was essential to the story. Not so much so in Dawn. A programming note: you need not have seen Rise — also a good movie — to appreciate Dawn, but the backstory does help. 8/10