Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Rated 4.0

The latest Planet of the Apes picture is a surprisingly lively combination of action-movie blockbuster and dystopian allegory. The action is spectacular and smartly orchestrated, and the allegorical elements, mostly obvious but not without an unpredictable edge, retain a modest but real contemporary sting. The film’s juxtapositions—the humanity of some of the apes and the brutality of some of the humans—further complicate the question of audience identification throughout the story. The allegorical elements focus in particular on war, the destruction of nature, the politics of fear, the toxicity of several kinds of power, guns and the propensity to violence, etc. The most crucially heroic figure in all this is Caesar (Andy Serkis), the wisest and most charismatic of the apes. His closest human counterpart is the scientist/adventurer Malcolm (Jason Clarke). Both have their respective imposing shadow figures—the vindictive ape Koba (Toby Kebbell) and human Dreyfus (Gary Oldman), the apostle of total war. The oppositions of those four figures (and of their respective groups of supporters) are part of the film’s pointedly unfinished allegory as well. Cinemark 14, Feather River Cinemas and Paradise Cinema 7. Rated PG-13.