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ROB HEDELT reviews movies and TV shows,  and is a  columnist for The Free Lance-Star. You can email him at

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Easy to go ape over latest entry in “Planet Of” series

Its humans are OK.

But “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” is worth seeing because of its apes.

Not just Andy Serkis, who makes the artificially enhanced simian Caesar cool to watch every minute he’s on screen.

No, what really makes this visit to the rebooted “Planet” franchise very worthwhile is the densely detailed and computer-generated apes that surround the leader of the apes.

Not one or two of them, but two hundred and more, riding horses, swinging from pine trees, all the while heading toward interspecies warfare that we realize will be unavoidable.

The movie’s opening reel is a tad slow, but it takes a while to establish the fact that most of mankind was killed off by the simian flu set loose in the closing moments of the last film, which restarted the series.

We also learn that the apes are doing quite well, thank you very much, living in the mountain across from the Golden Gate Bridge that got trashed in the opener.

Jason Clarke is the good guy human here as a scientist trying to restart a hydroelectric system at a nearby dam. A visit to inspect that results in a run-in with the apes, which starts a series of events that makes this film jump from then on.

Gary Oldman is the bad human, a man whose personal loss has made him bitter.

But who really cares about these humans when you’ve got such amazingly detailed and lifelike apes. The way Caesar and his inner circle differ so radically on rushing to war provides the message her—men and apes aren’t that different after all.

It’s all wrapped up nicely to shoot us directly to the next ape movie.

Or, the way Hollywood’s working these days, the next five.

As for this one, get some popcorn and settle in. This one’s a gorilla of a good time.


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