Movie: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
4 and 1/2 out of 5 stars
There is a hesitation in the minds of many, a nearly audible, collective groan, when summer movies come out steeped in CGI effects and the over-hyped 3-D format. Luckily, there are movies such as Dawn of the Planet of the Apes that come along. Like the high-reaching Avatar (2009), it delivers with both state-of-the-art visuals and a timeless, emotionally-wrought story better suited for café-ready socio-political discussion than its respectable predecessor, Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
Director Matt Reeves aimed for an intelligent thriller that wisely uses the bells and whistles attributed to summer blockbusters. Drawing from Shakespeare’s Henry V, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes picks up where beloved Alzheimer’s experiment/pet Caesar breaks free of humans and starts his own community of apes in pockets of forests in the outskirts of San Francisco, California. A viral simian flu has left 1 in 500 humans alive and scrambling for fuel resources. One group has encountered Caesar’s community, which borders a nearby dam offering hydro-powered energy. Guns are drawn and the political maneuvering begins. Caesar seeks to go the diplomatic route in order to learn what he can from humans in that process. His human–scarred confidant-turned rival Koba is having none of that.
The movie is easily a modern science fiction classic. And, with this genre being able to deconstruct issues where others fail, there remains questions within the taboo of race that are hard to ignore. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes explores the earliest primates we are connected to, so why not more of a nod toward African culture (the earliest actual human beings)? It is not as though the writers were unaware. After all, the blue-eyed, lighter pigmented and slim-nosed leader Caesar is in perfect contrast the brown-eyed, darker-skinned and wider-nosed Koba (a name known to be a moniker for brutal Russian dictator Joseph Stalin).
Moments where the philosophical face-offs run thin are few. When those moments do occur, there is enough emotion to keep the audience from checking cell phones and predicting upcoming plot twists to justify next summer’s installation. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is clearly one of this summer’s best.
About Dr. William Hobbs
William Hobbs (aka William Ashanti Hobbs, III) is from Fort Lauderdale, Florida by way of Atlanta, GA. While attending Florida A&M University (FAMU), the college junior was inspired to publish Pseudonymous, a collection of short stories and poems and the novel “The Chosen People: Africa’s Lost Tale of Meroe”, all in the same year. Sales allowed Hobbs to publish ” Unconditionally ” in 1996 as he graduated from FAMU. His passion for writing won him a McKnight Fellowship, which allowed him to pursue a masters and doctorate degree in creative writing from Florida State University (FSU).
Hobbs graduated from FSU in 2004 and now teaches Creative Writing at Florida Memorial University. Hobbs has published an essay and poem in Journey into a Brother’s Soul by Kimani Press. Hobbs is married to Dr. Tameka Hobbs and has two sons, Ashanti and Amiri. He has recently published an experimental novel entitled “North of the Grove.”