Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Movie Poster Image

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

(i)

 

Intense sequel is darker than first, with more weapons.
Popular with kidsParents recommend
  • Review Date: July 11, 2014
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Release Year: 2014
  • Running Time: 101 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The messages in the movie focus on trust, diplomacy, and peacekeeping. Caesar wants to protect the apes, but he also refuses to see all humans as evil torturers. His human counterpart, Malcolm, similarly understands that the apes want what the remaining humans want: to live with their community without fear or danger. There's also a positive message about fathers protecting their sons and sons learning from and looking out for their fathers.

Positive role models

Caesar wants to peacefully co-exist with humans -- with the apes in their part of the world and remaining humans in theirs. He doesn't see all humans as evil or a threat. Caesar is a strong leader as well as a loving father and mate. He urges apes to seek out peace and family, not hatred and vengeance.

Violence

More weapons-based violence and a higher overall body count in this film than its predecessor, with apes storming an armory and using the guns. Koba in particular becomes bloodthirsty for war with the humans, and he personally kills humans by crushing them, shooting them, and setting them on fire. Humans retaliate with their own guns, killing many apes. A couple of the deaths are particularly upsetting. Unlike the first movie, there's ape-on-ape violence, with Koba shooting, terrorizing, and in one case killing a fellow ape by throwing him off a ledge. Apes who don't agree with his methods are rounded up and imprisoned. A man is willing to die to kill a lot of apes. An early scene that shows apes hunting has a few scary moments, particularly with a huge bear.

Sex

Adults in a monogamous relationship are shown embracing and sleeping next to each other, and an ape couple caresses and hugs.

Language

More than in the previous film: a few uses of "s--t," "a--hole," "goddamn," and "bulls--t," as well as one "f--king" (as an exclamation, not a reference to sex).

Consumerism

A few glimpses of old electronics that have been temporarily powered: an Apple iPad, a Canon video camera, and a couple of trucks, as well as a 76 gas station.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Adults drink alcohol, as does an ape.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is the darker, more violent sequel to Rise of the Planet of the Apes, in which the apes take arms against a post-super-virus group of human survivors. Dawn has a higher body count than Rise (with a couple of particularly upsetting deaths), and the violence is more militant/weapons-based than the first film's animal abuse and torture. There's also a bit more language ("s--t," "a--hole," one "f--king") and drinking, but overall the film's jump-worthy moments and intense action sequences make this a thrilling post-apocalyptic movie for both teens and parents. The opposing takes on peace versus war may even spark interesting conversations about history, politics, and war.

What's the story?

Ten years after the culminating events of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the simian flu has spread across the globe, killing the majority of the human population and plunging the world into a new dark age of chaos. But back in San Francisco, Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his super-smart ape pals have flourished, creating a society in which all apes work and live together, abiding by rules that prohibit them from killing each other. Caesar is the alpha male, so when a group of humans led by Malcolm (Jason Clarke) and a trigger-happy Carver (Kirk Acevedo) stumbles upon the ape sanctuary while looking for a dam, it's Caesar who yells "Go!" at the bewildered human survivors. Realizing that the dam is their only hope to regain power to the survivors' colony, Malcolm returns to ask the apes' permission to do his research. Koba (Toby Kebbell), who was once a tortured lab chimp, advises Caesar against trusting the humans, but Caesar allows Malcolm's crew to work ... until tragic circumstances lead to an all-out war between the apes and the humans.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

This movie will surprise viewers with its depth and relevance to a world in which co-existence between humans is beginning to look every bit as difficult as harmony between the humans and the apes. The decade between the events in Rise and the action in DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES has decimated humanity but helped the apes evolve into a well-organized community of united chimpanzees, orangutans (wise Maurice is back as the community's teacher), gorillas, and other apes. By focusing on the apes at the beginning and the end, director Matt Reeves makes it clear where society is heading ... and who has the more interesting story lines. This installment's most compelling characters are definitely the apes, particularly the mistrustful Koba -- who not only refuses to trust humans but is willing to lie, cheat, and steal to start a war with the neighboring survivors' colony -- and Blue Eyes (Nick Thurston), Caesar's oldest son, who's torn between listening to his thoughtful father and the more vocally militant Koba. Caesar and Koba are fascinating foils, and their relationship is so much more heartbreaking than their human counterparts Malcolm and Dreyfus (Gary Oldman), who thinks the apes are just "dumb animals."

In the first movie, Caesar related to Will (James Franco) as a son. But in the sequel, he and Malcolm are equals -- both fathers trying to do what's best for their sons and their communities. Their friendship doesn't have as tearful an emotional pull as the father-son dynamic, but it's still poignant to see two voices of reason standing against hate. It's too bad there isn't more for Keri Russell or Kodi Smit-McPhee to do as Malcolm's partner and son; they -- along with some of the original apes, like Maurice and Rocket -- don't have a lot of lines. Still, Dawn is ultimately a dark and violent drama with more substance than anyone would expect from a franchise sequel. The movie's visuals are unforgettable (apes on horses! apes with guns a la Arnold Schwarzenegger!), and the action is occasionally disturbing (a couple of the kills are particularly upsetting).

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how violent Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is compared to the first movie. How is it different? What's harder to watch -- the weapons-based violence in this sequel or the animal abuse in the first movie?

  • What's so compelling about post-apocalyptic stories? Why are viewers drawn to humans struggling for survival?

  • Animals are usually depicted as humans' friends or pets, but what do these apes want -- to rule over humans or to just live free and apart from them?

  • Discuss how Caesar's and Koba's approaches to ape-human relations differ. Are there real-life comparisons you can make to their differing world views?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:July 11, 2014
DVD release date:December 2, 2014
Cast:Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Judy Greer, Andy Serkis
Director:Matt Reeves
Studio:Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Genre:Science Fiction
Topics:Wild animals
Run time:101 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and brief strong language

This review of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Kid, 11 years old July 27, 2014

Kinda violent

It has a lot of guns. Apes shooting humans and humans shooting apes. There are apes killing each other. There are a few explosions and some swearing like the F word and S word. A little drinking by humans and one ape. People falling off buildings or being forced off buildings. Only violence nothing inappropriate only a small kiss. There is an ape baby being born but they do not show it happening just the mothers face.
Adult Written byBestPicture1996 July 17, 2014

Apes are back, more intense than ever

Here was my only beef with "Rise" when I saw it 3 years ago: the human performances weren't all that great. I love Franco in just about everything he's in, but he and Freida Pinto were weak points: no one really wants to see humans in an "Apes" film. This movie largely corrects that, very much focusing on what I spent $14.50 to see: the main attraction. To even comprehend how many special effects shots went into this movie is mind boggling...it simply has to win the Visual Effects Oscar. With a motion capture suit and cutting edge technology, the awe inspiring Andy Serkis and the nearly as good Toby Kebbell as the villainous Koba make these animals live, breathing characters the audience wholeheartedly invests them self in. They go through great character development in this film, and even though it's not as exciting, Jason Clarke and Gary Oldman's story lines were fine too. Though who really stole my heart? Maurice the orangutan, played brilliantly with sympathy by Karin Konoval, who I hope will be returning for the next "Apes" installment.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Teen, 16 years old Written bySalsander July 23, 2014

A tremendous, although much more violent sequel

While Rise (of the Planet of the Apes) focused on the human relationships with the Apes leading to the genesis of a war, Dawn depicts this war between humans and at times between the apes themselves. Because of this change of focus, Dawn is much more violent than it's predecessors. The first half is non-violent, but there is a lot of tension between the Apes and humans. The humans (who are survivors of a deadly plague) request to use a dam in the apes territory to regain electricity lost in the plague, but the Apes are lenient to let them enter, especially because the humans have accidentally fought with the apes on occasion. The peace is kept though because Caesar (the leader ape) wants to maintain the peace. But then the second part roles in. I can't spoil how the humans and apes become apart again, but the two species go back to war. In one scene, the apes obtain guns and charge the on horseback and in tanks at the survivor's shelter. The apes shoot the many guards at the gate as they attempt to defend it. It was a pretty long and gripping scene, so much so that I spotted a family with a ten year old leave the theater. There were many ape and human casualties from the gunshots along with some explosions setting the apes on fire. Along with this scene, there was a pretty intense rooftop battle which consisted of a lot of hand to hand combat. One character (an ape) has an abhorrence for humans and kills them indiscriminately. He also uses fear to intimidate apes and throws a main character off a building to demonstrate his authority. Apart from that, there was an assassination, fist fights, a close-up death from a gun, and an unintentional suicide bombing. There also was some language with one f-bomb and a couple s words. Overall, Dawn is a much more intense sequel to an assumed trilogy and is akin to The Dark Night in it's ampt up violence and darker themes. Middleschoolers can probably handle it, but i'd not recommend this for anyone under 11.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?