Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes: A Movie Of Consequential Fear And Survival

Following on from the first film in the new series, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes delves into the lives of both humans and the apes 10 years after the ending bridge battle.  Where the first film strived in film production advances, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes enhanced that even more with a story and characters that made more of an impact on the audience.   In Rise of the Plane of the Apes, the humans were overpowered by apes in both character design and heartfelt moments, whereas in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, there was sympathy to be given to both sides.  Couple this with an undeniable and underrated antagonist, it’s safe to say the reviews are far from outlandish.

Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes

Warning: if you haven’t seen the Planet of the Apes films, there will be spoilers ahead.

A Plot In Need Of Trust

As stated before, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is set approximately 10 years after the first movie.  We are instantly overwhelmed by a tribe of Apes living inside the Muir woods, establishing that these Apes have had freedom for over a decade.  Caesar is older and now the leader of the Apes.  He is shown to have a son called “Blue Eyes” and a sick pregnant wife.

It is also shown that the ALZ-113 virus, one that was starting to be spread by the likes of Hunsiker in the last movie, has now swept worldwide and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is set in a future where humanity has collapsed.

A group of colonists enter Muir woods led by Malcolm (Played by Jason Clarke), to find long-term power for the city and his colony.  The colony in question is a group of humans who are genetically immune to the ALZ-113 virus, therefore surviving the worldwide outbreak.  Malcolm’s group is confronted by Caesar’s tribe, in which the humans finally hear the apes speak causing confusion and shock.  The group are then ordered to leave the woods which they instantly do.  Now that they’ve been shown to the humans, and as one of the groups attacked an ape, the discussion unfolds about what to do. On one side Koba, from the first movie, says they need to fight and show strength against the humans, however on the other side, Caesar sticks with his decision of pacifism as they can’t afford to lose what they have built in the last decade.
Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes

The next day, Caesar leads the tribe to the colony where he states that the Apes do not want war and will not fight unless they have to.  This a strong message to the humans saying they can have peace if they do not threaten the tribe.  The tribe return Malcolm’s sons’ (Played by Kodi Smit-McPhee) satchel, something he accidentally left in the woods, as an unorthodox peace offering to the humans.

In real need of the hydroelectric damn in the woods, the reason the group initially went into the woods, Malcolm convinced the leader of the colony Dreyfus (Played by Gary Oldman) to give him a couple of days to settle a deal with the tribe to use the dam.  This in turn is successful as a small group of humans are allowed to work on the dam, tightly watched by a bunch of Apes at all times.  The group eventually creates bonds with the apes and Malcolm’s wife Ellie (Played by Keri Russel) is even able to give aid to Caesar’s wife, who was becoming sicker and sicker.

As all of this is going on, Koba tricks a couple of humans, killing them, and steals weapons from the armoury.  Koba, with help from some close ape allies, burn the ape tribe down and Koba shoots Caesar in the shoulder (in secrecy), causing him to fall off a cliff.  Koba plants the gun which is then found by Blue eyes, therefore making it seem as if the human group had shot Caesar.  In the chaos of losing Caesar, Koba takes leadership of the tribe leading to a more commanding presence for the Apes.

Koba then initiates a battle with the humans, ambushing both the armoury for more weapons and then heading to San Francisco to ambush the colony buildings.  A massive battle commences where we see how merciless Koba is, in both using guns and killing Ash (A fellow Ape) for not following one of his orders.  The humans are imprisoned alongside some Apes such as Maurice and Rocket who as presumably too close to Caesar to willingly follow Koba in his new order.

In the meantime, Malcolm’s family stumble across a close-to-death Caesar in which Caesar confirms that it was Koba who shot him, not a human.  Eventually, Blue eyes also reunites with his Dad, in which Caesar also tells him about Koba.  Blue eyes, in resistance, frees the imprisoned Apes and humans.

Caesar and his followers confront Koba whilst Malcolm’s group holds Dreyfus at gunpoint as they were planning on using C4 to blow up the tower Caesar is heading to.  A battle between Caesar and Koba commences with the Apes watching.  Dreyfus steals the C4 remote ultimately blowing up the tower while stating “Im saving the human race”.

The explosion kills Dreyfus, a couple of his men and a couple of apes on the tower.  Caesar and his fellow apes tend to the injured until Koba starts shooting at the Apes again.  Angered, Caesar jumps on Koba, eventually causing Koba to hang off the edge of a ledge.  In a last-ditch effort for survival, Koba says the phrase “Ape not kill Ape”, however upon seeing the carnage caused by Koba, Caesar lets go causing Koba to plummet to his death.

Caesar finds Malcolm being held at gunpoint by some of Koba’s followers in which Malcolm tells Caesar of the human reinforcements coming their way.  Caesars states “ War has already begun.  Ape started War, and human, human will not forgive”, a phrase that informs Malcolm that the tribe are staying in the city to fight the reinforcements.  Malcolm and Caesar take one more embrace and then Malcolm leaves, leaving Caesar and the rest of the apes to await the consequence of Koba’s actions.

Fear And Survival

A lot of the movie revolves around the ideas of survival and fear, and ultimately the consequences that come from these traits.

The humans are now limited in population and are trying to find ways to survive, one way being the hydroelectric damn in the woods.  The group are confronted by the tribe and is instantly shocked and scared by the fact that the apes could speak and seemingly show advanced intelligence.  

Even though they were confronted by Caesar and told that the Apes realistically want peace, Dreyfur still armed men with weapons in case of an attack, a good decision in hindsight, but one built out of fear of an unknown group with unknown intentions: the apes.

Even though Malcolm’s group was starting to be introduced into the tribe and was mingling with the Apes, some of the group was still fearful leading to guns being found in the camp causing more distrust for the apes.

On the other side, apes are a thriving tribe and the interaction with humans with weapons caused some of the apes to fear the humans and instantly drive for war.  Koba was the main driver for this decision as he knew deep down what humans are capable of, due to him being tested on in the first movie.

Caesar and Malcolm’s family were the only true characters who saw trust and respect in both parties.  Caesar had been both tortured and tested on by humans but also became family with humans.  He saw how peace can be made inside the ape colony, but he could also see the erratic nature of some apes like Koba.  Malcolm was able to see the peace inside the colonies but could also see how fear can make humans do moronic things.  He also took time to experience the tribes and the apes that flourish inside them.  They were the only characters that really knew both sides of the story but eventually, they were the ones who lost the most: a chance at peace.

All because of one character: Koba.

The Dawn Of A Calculated Antagonist

Arbitrarily, Koba is one of the best Antagonists to come out of the Planet of the Apes franchise.  Although it’s a hard line to decide if Koba is the real villain of the story, due to the nature of the two sides being closer in nature than most realise.  Something that is not hard to decide, is the fact Koba is a cold, violent, calculated killer who would do anything to get what he wants.

As shown in Rise for the Planet of the Apes,  Koba was tested on by the same facility that created the virus that crumbled humanity.  He experienced the nature of humans, brought out by a fear of Alzheimer’s and the greed to keep surviving.  It’s painless to say, Koba’s intentions when distrusting the humans in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes stem from this factor.  A strong backstory which fuels Koba’s violence is a great reason why Koba’s character can keep up with the better side of antagonists.  So many villains these days are sloppy in writing and give no true reason for why they do the things they do, leaving a half-decent character with very questionable morals.

Koba is a very enthralling character due to several contradictory natures:

  • Calculation – Koba does things in a calculated fashion that screams to the audience that he has intentions greater than being subordinate to Caesar.  Placing the blame on the humans when in reality he shot Caesar shows great planning. 
  • Manipulation – After shooting Caesar, he was able to not only manipulate the Ape population that humans were the ones who did it but also manipulate Caesar’s son, Blue Eyes. into following his lead.  It is fascinating how easily these ideas come to Koba, and how easily he puts those ideas into action.
  • Violence – Koba is undeniably the most violent character in the movie.  Actions like burning the ape tribe down, shooting Caesar, the chaos he creates, the expression he makes when using guns and the way he effortlessly decides to push Ash off the balcony.
  • Tyranny – Koba has strong leadership skills, even if it is one of a vicious dictatorship.  The fear he forces onto the other apes, especially Blue eyes, and the way he instantly takes over from Caesar, shows how suited he is for a role in power, even if it causes more harm than good.

A scene in which these traits are displayed in some capacity would be when Koba infiltrates the human armoury.  We see in one scene two humans shooting guns in a gun range.  They are confronted by Koba who acts dumb, primarily like an animal would in that situation.  He points to the drink one guy is holding because he “wants” a drink, in reality, it’s clear that spitting the drink in laughter was a diversion so he could swipe a gun from the humans.  The same gun he used to mercilessly kill the humans with, at one point looking his victim in the eye whilst finally shooting him.  If Koba was a human character, this calculated, violent manipulation would be a fascinating direction.  However, as Koba is a bonobo, it makes his character even more special.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was a sequel which enhanced the first movie, something rare to find in modern film production.  A story which successfully delved into a crumbled civilisation trying to survive with a thriving tribe just wanting peace created an amazing watch.  Partner this with the creation of a deep antagonist, this movie reaches higher heights than the first reboot did.

How about you?  Did you find Koba to be a fascinating character to watch?  Let us know, we’d love to hear from you!

Other things you might want to know about:

Is Planet of the Apes 4 confirmed?

5 years after “War for the Planet of the Apes”, the new film in the reboot series will be aired on the big screen in spring 2024.  Titled “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes”, the classic trope of the apes taking over from the humans is still in full effect, however, lacking the ROFPOTA Caeser.  Plot points beyond that are still up for grabs.

When it comes to the actors playing in the film, the cast will include; Kevin Durand, Freya Allen, Neil Sandilands, and Lydia Peckham with even more on the lineup.  Actors like Freya Allen have already struck well in series like “The Witcher”, so her role in this new film should be undeniable.

If you are interested Disney has announced a release date of May 24, 2024.

How many years later is Dawn of the Planet of the Apes?

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is set 10 years after the Rise of the Planet of the Apes.  The ALZ-113 virus has now wiped out humanity and a group of genetically immune humans live in a colony fighting for survival.  Caesars, 10 years later, has now successfully set up a peaceful tribe and has now got a family.

Why is Will not in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes?

Will is the main human character from Rise of the Planet of the Apes.  He was the human who took Caesar in as an infant when Caesar’s mother was killed going on a rampage in the facility.  Will was not shown throughout Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and James Franco, the actor of Will, was not shown in the cast list.  Therefore is speculative that Will died due to the virus outbreak