To avoid any confusion, I actually don’t think Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a terrible movie (despite my review and the title of this post). Not a surpassingly great movie, but it’s not the abject mess that, say, either The Legend of Hercules or Pompeii was. In any movie, though, there are likely to be a few thing that just don’t quite make sense when you think about them. For some, these will ruin the movie – they can’t stop seeing them. I tend to think these little issues are funny. So, if you’re like me and you’ve already seen Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, I humbly submit five such incongruities for your reading pleasure.
1) The Poster
Before we even get to things that are wholly within the movie, we have to take a look at the movie’s poster:
In it, we have an ape, presumably Caesar, clutching an M-16 and galloping through the banks of the San Francisco bay with a Golden Gate bridge that looks like it just took a Godzilla laser beam in the background.
Now far be it from me to hold a poster to the standard of actually representing the movie it’s for, but I’m pretty sure the only gun Caesar handles the entire movie is the shotgun he finds in Carver’s toolkit. Since he’s the ape for peace and all. But obviously, the far bigger funny comes with the bridge. I can just imagine the fun some artist had setting fire to the steel of the bridge. Sure, there are some munitions in the movie, but they never get anywhere near the bridge! What, did the marketing department not want to get outclassed by Pacific Rim or…um… X-Men: The Last Stand?
2) The Ape and Human Communities Are Completely Unaware of One Another
The inciting incident of the story is when Malcom’s initial foray to get to the hydroelectric dam stumbles into the territory controlled by Caesar’s apes. What’s funny about this? Hardly a scene before, another ape comments that they haven’t seen a human for at least two years, and they hypothesize that humans might even be extinct. What’s extra funny about this? We quickly learn that Malcom’s collective lives in the ruins of San Francisco less than a day’s travel away from Caesar’s clan!
The two groups are entirely unaware of each other when the movie starts, but the timeline of the movie suggests they’ve been living within easy travelling distance of one another – both groups make the trek multiple times over the course of the movie – for nearly ten years.
3) The Apes Can Recognize Spoken Language
In the climax of Rise of the Planet of the Apes Caesar speaks, stunning all those around him. In Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the first time Caesar speaks – shouting a single word, “Go!” – produces a similar effect. As seen in the early part of the movie, spoken language is not a part of ape culture – sign language is. These apes haven’t conversed in spoken language for ten years if they ever did. Ten years. Think about that. There’s no way that the entire ape clan, especially the younger generation that never knew human captivity, should be able to understand spoken language. The connection between signs, written language, and sound is one that has to be learned. They’ve had no way to learn it.
4) “Apes Follow Strength”
Late in the movie after Koba has led his revolution, it’s suggested that the apes will once again flock to Caesar’s leadership when he shows that he’s still alive. He responds that he can’t do that yet and needs to heal because ape culture is predicated on displays of physical strength – as we saw earlier in the movie when Koba attacked and was defeated by Caesar.
One problem: If that’s true, how is it that a chimpanzee is the leader? How is it not one of those massive silverback gorillas?
5) The Title
When Rise of the Planet of the Apes went into production in 2010, there was little guarantee that it would be anything more than a one-off entry into the Apes franchise. Tim Burton’s 2001 version was poorly received, and the series hadn’t been relevant since the early ‘70s. So you can’t really blame them for using the superior Rise title on that first new film.
But that left this sequel scrambling for a title, so it’s called…Dawn of the Planet of the Apes? What is “dawn”ing here? I guess it references the mass die-off of humans, as in this is now the planet of the apes and not the planet of the humans. But the movie makes clear that that hasn’t been decided yet.
Basically, the titles ought to have been reversed. “Dawn” perfectly references the creation of a serum that makes Caesar and the other apes super smart. Is the dawn of ape evolution that will lead to them taking over the earth. Rise describes their growing society and the dominance they display over the struggling humans.
Was there anything in the movie that bugged you? Let us know in the comments!