Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Parent Guide
What makes "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" worth watching for older teens and adults? It explores the tension between the desire to dominate and the desire for peace.
Parent Movie Review
After being exposed to an experimental virus designed to reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s disease, a group of primates broke free and attacked the inhabitants of San Francisco. Nearly a decade later the primates have built a city, and civilization of sorts, in the middle of a wooded area. Two years have passed since they saw their last person and for all they know the human race is dead.
Unfortunately that belief ends abruptly when a couple of apes innocently stumble upon a man in the forest. The frightened individual pulls out a gun and shoots one of them. The reverberations of that shot echo through both the human and primate population and are the start of a war between the two.
Caesar (voiced by Andy Serkis) leads the growing band of genetically evolving apes. Some of them speak not just words, but entire sentences. Although Caesar was the one who initially led the apes in their revolt against the humans, he wants nothing to do with the conflict if he can help it. Even this animal knows no one wins. But Koba (voice of Toby Kebbell) feels differently and he goes to extreme measures to incite a battle between the two speices.
Meanwhile the humans also have opposing views about engaging in combat. Former San Francisco Police Chief Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) has the last living citizens hunkered down near Market Street. He has assembled an arsenal of weapons and built walls around their part of town in preparation for an attack. Among these survivors are Malcolm(Jason Clarke), his son Alexander (Kodi-Smit-McPhee) and his girlfriend Ellie (Keri Russell). While this trio is scouting out an old hydro plant in hopes of finding a power source for the city, they come face to face with the angry apes. Yet Malcolm isn’t prepared to fight them after he sees their developing humanity.
It’s doubtful you’ll leave the theater feeling good about mankind or primates as a whole. Just as Rise of the Planet of the Apes brought up the ethical issues of animal testing, this movie questions the unquenchable thirst for power. Human societies have dealt with tyrants and despots for centuries. Unfortunately that desire for dominance seems to have been genetically passed on to the primates. And even when leaders want a truce, there’s always a faction calling for an uprising.
Like the previous movies in this franchise, the apes are incredibly realistic thanks to motion capture technology and a group of talented actors who portray them. But giving the animals human-like feelings and emotions increases the sense that these two species are more alike than different. That is all too evident in a negative way when apes and humans attack one another with guns and explosives, and then imprison one another. Characters are also brutally beaten or shot at close range. And politically coups occur in both camps.
So what makes Dawn of the Planet of the Apes worth watching for older teens and adults? According to this movie, a desire to dominate—or at least a tendency to squabble—may be part of our genetic makeup, especially if it involves the control of resources. But the longing to live in peaceful societies with our families is also in our genes. The real test of humanity comes in making the conscious decision to act on one of those inclinations over the other. And sometimes that can be difficult—whether you’re a human or a primate.Directed by Matt Reeves. Starring Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Andy Serkis, Kodi Smit-McPhee. Running time: 130 minutes. Theatrical release July 11, 2014. Updated May 23, 2016
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Rating & Content Info
Why is Dawn of the Planet of the Apes rated PG-13? Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and brief strong language.
Violence: Riots, deaths and the breakdown of society occur during a worldwide epidemic. A bear attacks and is stabbed to death in the back. Some characters are shown with bloody injuries. Characters are shot, sometimes at close range, and killed. Frequent scenes of hand-to-hand conflict are shown along with some other weapon use. Explosives are used to destroy buildings or kill characters. Others are rounded up and imprisoned. A character is nearly choked to death. A character takes over a group after shooting and killing the leader. Other portrayals of non-graphic violence and some frightening images are shown.
Sexual Content: A couple embraces and kisses. The birth of a new baby is depicted.
Language: The script contains a strong sexual expletive along with profanities, scatological slang and some vulgarities.
Alcohol / Drug Use:A minor character smokes on several occasions. Some brief scenes of drinking are shown.
Page last updated May 23, 2016
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Parents' Guide
How do both the humans and the primates feel about their families? What are they willing to do in order to protect them? Does one group have to dominate the other or can they successfully live together? What makes that possibility so slim?
The apes drive a herd of animals over the side of a cliff to kill them for food. Some Native Americans used this same technique to get food for their tribe. These buffalo jumps allowed the indigenous people to hunt large animals without the use of arrows.
One of the factors in the conflict between the humans and apes in this story is the need for electrical power. The humans are trying to restart a hydro plant but the apes worry about humans coming near to city. How can the need for resources (oil, water, food etc.) lead to conflict between societies? How does the control of those resources give one group power over another?
The most recent home video release of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes movie is December 2, 2014. Here are some details…Home Video Notes: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Release Date: 2 December 2014
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes releases to home video (3D/ Blu-ray/Digital Copy or Blu-ray/Digital Copy) with the following special features:
- Journey to Dawn
- Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary by Matt Reeves
- Humans and Apes: The Cast of Dawn
- The World of Dawn
- The Ape Community
- Move Like an Ape: An Artist s Artist’s Medium
- Weta and Dawn
- The Fight for a New Dawn
- Audio Commentary by Matt Reeves
Home Video Notes: Planet Of The Apes: Caesar's Warrior Collection
Release Date: 2 December 2014
Planet Of The Apes: Caesar's Warrior Collection releases to home video (Blu-ray/DVD) with the following:
- Copy of Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2 Discs)
- Copy of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2 Discs)
- Caesar Ape Head (outer box dimensions: 12" wide by 11.5" deep by 14.5" tall)
- A 32-page "Planet of the Apes: Building an Icon" booklet
- Four collectible battle-ready ape character cards.