Movie Review: 'Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes'

If you want apes, you've come to the right place. The latest in the franchise, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, shows us masses of intelligent apes swarming the screen as masters of all they survey.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It was 1968 on the calendar - or some future date in movie time - when Charlton Heston first told those dirty apes to keep their stinking paws off him. Out in theaters today is "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes," the latest film in the epic saga of interspecies conflict. Critic Kenneth Turan has this review.

KENNETH TURAN: If you want apes, you've come to the right place. If people are your passion - not so much. "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" shows us masses of intelligent apes swarming the screen as masters of all they survey. With Andy Serkis returning as Caesar, the ayatollah of all apedom, the animal kingdom is even more impressive than it was in 2011's "Rise of the Planet of the Apes." It's reason enough to see the film all by itself. But when it comes to telling the story of the ragtag bunch of humans who inevitably clash with these upwardly mobile apes, this film can't match the involvement of the last one. The new film starts inside Caesar's domain 10 years after the apes' mass fight across the Golden Gate Bridge. That was one of the last film's visual highlights. Then, as they must, a few puny humans appear led by Malcolm, played by Jason Clarke. They're looking for a hydroelectric dam, but what they find instead is Caesar and his clan.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES")

JASON CLARKE: (As Malcolm) We don't mean any harm.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: They are apes, man. Do you think they understand what you're saying?

CLARKE: (As Malcolm) Do they look like just apes to you?

TURAN: Naturally, things don't go smoothly, and peaceful Caesar makes a trip to San Francisco to speak his mind.

ANDY SERKIS: (As Caesar) Apes do not want war. Do not come back.

TURAN: With its give-peace-a-chance plea for interspecies amity and its condemnation of needless mistrust, "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" places itself squarely on the side of the angels. But in the process, it becomes more earnest than it's good for. Still, the film truly makes us believe we're watching intelligent apes in action, and that's not something you see every day.

INSKEEP: Ken Turan reviews movies for MORNING EDITION and for the Los Angeles Times. This is NPR News.

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