Dawn of the Planet of the Apes came out back in 2014, a mere 3 years after the first movie. I loved that first movie but when I first saw this movie it blew my mind. You technically don't have to watch the first movie to get through this one but you have more of a vested interest in its main character if you did.
The movie starts off a few years after the aftermath of the first movie. I love how the intro looks just like the outro credit scenes of the first movie. In this movie we focus on Caesar. He was the ape of the first movie. Now he's a full adult and he's got a family. He's got a caring partner, Cornelian, with a grown up child, Ash, and a baby that's just recently born. Unfortunately there are some complications with the birth and Cornelia is sick.
He's the leader of a pack of apes that live in isolation. Again it's a continuation of the story from the first movie. Now they've multiplied so there's a huge community of apes. It's been some years now so they've assumed that the humans have killed themselves off by now. Of course this is when some kids bump into a human that almost kills them out of fear.
We then get introduced to Malcolm, Ellie and the gang. Their job is to get a hydro plant to start working again so that their small compound can get electricity. The power plant just so happens to be beyond Caesar's home so they have to make negotiations in order to get the thing running again.
We get very important interactions among the apes and humans in this part. Here we understand everyone's fears and get to see some of them bond with one another. It's such a short period of time but they were able to convey so much information in these scenes.
Of course everything isn't all roses and butterflies and we know that the humans and apes are eventually going to have an all out war. We start to see distrust rearing its ugly head and pretty soon an all out war erupts. That's when this movie gets really intense and insane. It's non-stop edge of your seat action and you wouldn't believe the CGI was done 10 years ago because it still looks utterly fantastic.
This movie made me contemplate on a lot of moral questions. It started to get me to think that wars are part of generational trauma. The mistrust that the apes and humans have with each other is generated on previous experiences and the generation before. They've been conditioned to think the way that they do so you can't blame them for starting the war. Each one of them has a perspective that is understandable and relatable. Apes in particular remember how they were treated when they were in cages or that they were tested on by humans.
Each one of them has an agenda that we can all clearly understand. Some of them are seeing things in a microscopic view and some of them looking at things in the broader scale of things. It's interesting to see how each perspective will change their point of view in how to deal with the situation at hand.
I felt that this movie had a lot more content than the first movie. You don't even need to see the first movie to understand this one. There are nods and homages to that first movie but they kind of explain everything so that no one is totally lost. I found this one just way more entertaining and with less out of tone cartoonish characters. This movie is consistent through and through.
Overall, I think this may have been my favorite movie of the series. I'll have to judge that when I get to the last of the trilogy. This was a fantastic watch and it still holds up today. It's so good and I keep forgetting how much fun it is. I have to give this one a 9 out of 10. You can't go wrong with this one and I can't recommend it enough.