I really enjoy Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes. I’ve seen it twice now, and each time I’ve been amazed by the performance capture technology on display there in when it comes to the emotion being brought across. Sure, having the motions of Andy Serkis, Toby Keynell and the other ape actors captured really brings reality to their simian counterparts, but it’s the facial capture, the emotions, that draw me into the story.
And for me, the story of Dawn… isn’t about man vs ape. It’s about ape vs ape, it’s about Caeser having to pay for his past decisions.
In Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, during the climatic battle on the Golden Gate Bridge, Caeser orders Koba to kill a human. Up until that point, Caeser goes out of his way to stop his freed simian brethren from directly killing a human. But, as the money driven GenSys boss Jacobs is stuck helpless in a helicopter that is doomed to plunge over the edge of the bridge, the man begging Caeser for help, the pacifist ape turns away, gives a nod, and allows Koba, an ape who’s body is scarred from countless (and unexplained) surgeries to murder him.
By allowing, no, by ordering Koba to do this, Caeser inadvertently created his own nemesis.
Koba loves Caeser. Caeser loves Koba. I got that emotion and bond, you can see it in their body language when they’re together, in the way Koba throws himself at a huge bear that is going to maul Caeser, without fear or hesitation risking his life to save not only his alpha, but his friend and saviour. His brother, even. He certainly treats Blue Eyes, Caeser’s eldest son, in a very affectionate way, the way an uncle would. Koba is more than another ape, in much the same way that Maurice is. Koba is a part of Caeser’s inner circle, a position of trust and respect, though they are polar opposites.
They are two apes who symbolise the very different sides of humanity.
Caeser is our love and understanding, our desire to improve and better ourselves.
Koba is our violence, our hate.
And humans shaped them this way.
So, when humans arrive, and instantly an age is shot and killed, I understand both points of view.
Caeser wants to avoid violence, and coexist peacefully, believing that all humans are not violent and destructive.
Koba wants to wipe out the humans, especially when he discovers, out of context, that they are testing assault rifles and have a stockpile of guns and explosives.
And when Koba returns to tell his trusted leader and friend this news, he finds that Caeser’s sons have been threatened by humans, but yet still allowed to continue their work at the dam.
I understood Koba’s anger at this. He has been proved right, and, in his eyes, Caeser shown to be weak, a human lover who would stand by and do nothing as humans threatened his family and home.
An ape unworthy to lead.
Of the scenes that follow, with all their explosions, gunfire and ape vs human fighting, the ones that had the most impact on me plot wise where the one where Caeser admits to Blue Eyes that he was wrong to think that humans were better than apes, and the one where Caeser lets Koba fall.
In that one, where Koba pleads with Caeser to not let him fall with the ‘Ape no kill Ape’ line, which Caeser replies to with ‘Koba Not Ape’, I saw reluctance on Caeser’s face, and perhaps the realisation he had spoken of In the aforementioned science between he and his son.
Caeser had done this, had caused all this destruction through his own actions and inactions. If humans had not arrived to disrupt the apes peaceful life it may never had come to light, but Caeser was responsible for Koba’s actions.
If he had not allowed Koba to murder a human ten years earlier, showing him that to do so was acceptable, that apes and humans could indeed not live together and be accepting of each other, them perhaps things would have been different. What would have been if Caeser had instead instructed him to save, rather then kill?
But, as Caeser held Koba above that tower, looking into the eyes of the ape that had once been his friend and brother, the ape that had tried to murder him, I’m sure it was one thought of many that was going through his mind.
I didn’t cheer as Koba fell as Caeser let him go. I felt pity for him. Humans had tortured him, turned him into what he was. Caeser had accepted him, shown him love, and when the humans had returned, Koba had been can’t aside, beaten by Caeser for speaking what he knew to be the truth, driven to madness and violence by hatred and fear.
In the end, Koba still won. The apes and humans are at war. Caeser admits there is no stopping it now, not after what Koba has done.
And the stage is set for what should be a great third film.
All out war between ape and man. Perhaps even the return of Koba, something i think is definitely on the cards after his fall down the tower shaft is lessened by hitting wires and landing in a gantry on his way down. I do hope that happens. He was the highlight of the film for me, the Scene Stealer award winner.
In closing, Dawn… is much more than a simple blockbuster, though it does contain all the required action of such a film. It’s about friendship, loyalty and consequence.
It’s about what it is to be ahuman.
Or perhaps, what it is to be an ape.