Dawn of the Apes

by Bear Hunter

I needed to calm myself before my flight tomorrow so I headed out to watch a film. What I ended up seeing was the new Planet of the Apes film. “Dawn of Planet of the Apes” was just as good as “Rise”.

The virus that had begun to spread at the end of “Rise” is now a spreading epidemic. The human race is dying off in the millions and now cure is in sight. Some humans are immune to the virus and manage to find each other forming small communities desperate to survive.

The genetically enhanced apes continue to thrive out in the forest. Over the decades their numbers have grown considerably and they have constructed their own unique village. They haven’t seen any sign of humans in years and aren’t even sure if there were any survivors. Some of the apes feel like they are better off.

Conflict finds it’s way into the Ape village when a group of armed humans stumble into the ape’s territory and shoot a Chimpanzee out of fear.

The Apes want to be left alone and a human village desperate for electricity wants to use an old Dam Hydro-electric Plant in the Ape’s territory. Some humans are willing to take the Dam at all costs, others wish to find a peaceful solution with the apes and the Apes are divided on how they feel about the human strangers and whether or not they can trust them.

The tension in the movie never lets up as both societies struggle with survival, fear, trust and a desire to hold onto the things they cherish. It was just like watching the conflicts of human history play out right on the scene before me but with intelligent apes as one of the parties.

One of the big ideas in all of the Ape movies – old and new – is that like history, evolution repeats itself. What we feel is unique to humanity may possibly re-emerge in other lifeforms after we are gone or possibly while we still live. This film gets into this well. There is a scene where the lead Chimp Caesar admits that he made a mistake thinking apes were better than humans and through the conflict comes to realize that they are more alike than he thought. I think that sentiment can be carried outside of fiction as well. A lot of species out there today – other mammals in particular – possess so many of the same traits we do. Some are only a few evolutionary steps away from us.

Through these similarities we can understand that we all struggle to survive and thrive. There is always that fear that we’ll have everything we have taken away. When a raccoon hisses at a person exploring their nest is it any different then us calling the police when a stranger shows up poking around our house?

The film also reminded me of how delicate relations can be between different unassociated groups and how slip-ups and misunderstandings can escalate especially in the face of fear. The answers on how we should conduct ourselves around unfamiliar groups can be hazy. I wish that showing pure love and acceptance was a clear path to reciprocation but that isn’t always the case, caution can be vital… but so can keeping a cool head and paying close attention to the facts.

Other then some overly convenient plot points the film really did make me think and the ending left me a bit unnerved. Maybe it wasn’t the best movie pick right before hoping on a plane to another continent but at least it brought some interesting questions into my mind.

– Bear Hunter