Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is an 2014 science fiction film directed by Matt Reeves and starring Andy Serkis, Gary Oldman, Jason Clarke, and Keri Russell.
It is the sequel to the 2011 film Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which began 20th Century Fox's reboot of the original Planet of the Apes series. It is the eighth theatrical film in the franchise.
A growing nation of genetically evolved apes led by Caesar is threatened by a band of human survivors of the devastating virus unleashed a decade earlier. They reach a fragile peace, but it proves short-lived, as both sides are brought to the brink of a war that will determine who will emerge as Earth's dominant species.
The film opens with a breaking news report showing the ten-year global pandemic of the ALZ-113 virus, since the ape breakout in San Francisco. A middle aged Caesar now leads and governs a new generation of apes, including some of his comrades from the ape sanctuary he broke out with. Caesar leads some of his apes to a hunting party to kill some deer for food. After a struggle with a grizzly bear, Caesar is summoned to his home, in the middle of the Muir Woods, where his wife has given birth to a newborn son. All the struggle seems to have gone away from the past ten years, with the comfort that Caesar has a family with his wife Cornelia, his teenage son River, and his newborn son.
Malcolm, a survivor of the ALZ-113 pandemic, convinces the human leader Dreyfus to give him three days to make peace with the apes in the hope that they will help unblock a water blockage in the woods to help bring back power to the city, before Dreyfus leads his team to kill the apes by surprise. While the human group enters the woods, River and Rocket's son Ash run into the humans, lead by Malcolm and his wife Ellie followed by their son Alexander and some other survivors. The apes, who have thought that human existence has long been gone, summon Caesar who sees Malcolm, realizing he is not like the humans they fought, lets the humans go through their resistance from fighting and orders them never to return. Caesar, along with his army, arrives at the human domain and tells the humans “Apes do not want war” and orders them never to come back.
Koba, who had been experimented upon in the labs of Gen-Sys, becomes aware of Caesar’s affectionate side towards humans and begins to spread the word to the other apes. Meanwhile, Malcolm and his group have set up camp at the bottom of the woods and attempts to go negotiate with Caesar in helping them breaking the water out of the blockage. When entering Caesar’s domain, Malcolm is captured by gorillas and taken to Caesar for judgment. While upon their conversation, Caesar in summoned to his wife Cornelia who learns that she is ill and might not survive. Malcolm convinces Caesar that he can help and brings his wife Ellie, who was a nurse, who gives Cornelia an antibiotic that eventually saves her life. In return Caesar agrees to help Malcolm and his team to unblock the water blockage.
Koba, who has convinced a number of apes of Caesar’s betrayal, goes rogue with a small team and spies on the human survivors only to learn that they have been supplying weapons to secretly start war with the apes. Upon returning from their mission, Koba convinces his people, and even Caesar's son River, to keep the discovery of the weapons from Caesar. Malcolm leads Caesar and his comrades Maurice, Rocket and River to the dam where the water supply is blocked. Upon releasing the water and restoring the city’s power, Koba appears and challenges Caesar to a fight claiming that “Caesar love humans more than apes!” Koba attempts to beat Caesar while Caesar takes the upper hand and Koba escapes. While the humans begin bonding with the apes, Caesar’s newborn son opens one of the crates that consists of machine guns which enrages Caesar and orders the humans never to enter their domain again.
Koba continues to go rogue and steals some of the machine guns from the human militia base and goes on a murder spree killing humans. Koba returns to the ape home and privately converses with Caesar only to shoot him in the chest. As the apes panic from the gunshot sound, Koba appears with the weapon and tells the apes of Caesar’s death and lies to the apes that Caesar’s life was taken by a human. Thus, enraging the apes into believing that there is no chance for peace and leads the ape civilization to kill off the human race. Meanwhile, Malcolm and his team find Caesar who they believe is dead to be alive and wounded. In attempt to hide Caesar from the other apes, Caesar leads the team in a car to an old house, which turns out to be the human home where Caesar was raised. Koba and the apes arrive at the human post and enslave the humans and imprison any rebel apes that disobey him, including River, Rocket, and Maurice. River escapes from imprisonment and finds Caesar and the humans at the house. Caesar summons River and tells him that the whole situation of the war between humans and apes was his fault. Caesar goes upstairs to his old room and finds a video camera which belonged to his “father” Will Rodman, and watches the experiment tape that Will had taken of a young Caesar learning sign language, while looks on and regrets what could have been.
Maurice, Rocket, and a few other rebel apes arrive at the house and tell Caesar of the situation with Koba. Caesar, realizing what Koba was about to unleash, leads the rebel apes and humans in hopes of restoring peace before war breaks out. Malcolm arrives at the base and tries to convince Dreyfus to stop the war before it even begins. With Caesar “back from the dead”, all of the apes return to the side of their true leader and try to overthrow Koba. While Malcolm begs Dreyfus not to start a war with the apes, Dreyfus explains that even if he didn’t want war it was too late, thus revealing that while Malcolm and his team were gone, they had made contact with the military and they were already on their way. With nowhere else to go, Dreyfus activates a mini bomb and blows up the human hideout tower, killing the apes fighting inside. During the explosion, Caesar and the ape army confront Koba. Koba and Caesar fight on top of the tower cranes until Caesar disarms Koba of his machine gun and leaves Koba hanging on the crane. Koba tells Caesar that he was only killing off humans to ensure the safety of the apes. Caesar lifts Koba off of the edge of the crane and replies by telling him that his actions were only for himself, knowing Koba’s hatred towards humans for experimenting on him in the Gen-Sys lab. For the betterment of his kind, Caesar lets Koba fall to his death.
Knowing the truth about the war that is about to ensue, Malcolm tells Caesar of the forces that are on their way to kill them. Caesar apologizes to Malcolm, knowing that there could be only one outcome of the war. Malcolm walks out of the tower while Caesar prepares to lead his civilization to war.
- Jason Clarke as Malcolm, a survivor of the ALZ-113 virus who, along with a small group of other survivors, forms a strong bond with the apes and Caesar.
- Gary Oldman as Dreyfus, the leader of the surviving humans who wants to kill all the apes and get "revenge" for the deaths of his wife and two sons from the virus.
- Keri Russell as Ellie, a former nurse with the CDC and survivor of the virus. She is Malcolm's second wife, Alexander's step-mother and knows the virus wasn't caused by the apes.
- Kodi Smit-McPhee as Alexander, Malcolm's teenage son.
- Jocko Sims as Werner, an ally of Dreyfus.
- Kirk Acevedo as Carver, a member of Malcolm's group. He has an attitude problem and a strong hatred for apes.
- Enrique Murciano as Kempt, a member of Malcolm's group.
- Kevin Rankin as McVeigh
- Keir O'Donnell as Finney
- J. D. Evermore as Sniper
- Andy Serkis as Caesar, a common chimpanzee who is the leader of the apes, king of the ape colony, husband of Cornelia, and father of River and an infant son. He is also the honorary uncle of Rocket's son, Ash.
- Judy Greer as Cornelia, Caesar's wife, mother of River and a newborn son, and honorary aunt of Ash.
- Terry Notary as Rocket, a common chimpanzee who is Caesar's second-in-command and one of his most trusted friends. Because of this, he is Caesar's children's honorary uncle.
- Karin Konoval as Maurice, Caesar's Bornean orangutan third-in-command and member of the ape council who gets captured and held hostage by humans.
- Toby Kebbell as Koba, Caesar's ruthless bonobo adviser who believes his leader is too affectionate towards humans.
- Doc Shaw as Ash, Rocket's teenage son, Caesar and Cornelia's honorary nephew, and River's best friend and cousin.
- Nick Thurston as River, Caesar and Cornelia's teenage son, honorary nephew of Rocket, and cousin and best friend of Ash.
After the release of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, director Rupert Wyatt commented on possible sequels: "I think we're ending with certain questions, which is quite exciting. To me, I can think of all sorts of sequels to this film, but this is just the beginning." Screenwriter and producer Rick Jaffa also stated that Rise featured several clues as to future sequels: "I hope that we're building a platform for future films. We're trying to plant a lot of the seeds for a lot of the things you are talking about in terms of the different apes and so forth."
On September 17, 2012, there were reports that director Wyatt was considering leaving the sequel due to his concern that a May 2014 release date would not give him enough time to make the film properly. On October 1, Cloverfield director Matt Reeves was confirmed as his replacement. Reeves had been working on developing a new Twilight Zone film. On October 18, Mark Bomback, writer of Live Free or Die Hard, was reported to be doing a re-write for Reeves. It was announced on June 20, 2013 that the release date for Dawn was being pushed back two months to July 18, 2014. On December 10, 2013, the film was pushed up one week to July 11, 2014.
In February 2013, actors Gary Oldman, Jason Clarke, and Kodi Smit-McPhee were cast in lead roles and the sequel set 15 years after the events from the first film. In March 2013, actress Keri Russell was cast in a role and Judy Greer was cast as Cornelia, a female chimp and love interest for Caesar. Toby Kebbell, Enrique Murciano and Kirk Acevedo joined the cast during filming. On May 15, 2013, Jocko Sims was cast in a supporting role of military operative Werner.
Filming began in April 2013 around the town of Campbell River, British Columbia. The location of Vancouver Island was chosen for its similarity to the locations depicted in the film, the forests, and the variety of landscapes. Filming in New Orleans started in May 2013 and continued in July 2013 at various locations such as the former Six Flags park Six Flags New Orleans.
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