Before the Dawn – 3 Short Films Leading up “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” Reviews

Before the Dawn

“Before the Dawn,” are the three short films created in the lead up to “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” in each the goal is to show how the world has changed from the Outbreak of the Simian Flu. The films are “Quarantine,” “All Fall Down,” and “Story of a Gun.” I’ll be reviewing each individually since they are all pretty short. They take place over the 10 years between “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” and “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.”

 Quarantine

“Quarantine”

“Quarantine” begins with the words – “In 2011 the ‘Simian Flu’ Virus spread across Major U.S. Cities. With no known cure, global efforts focused on containment.”

“Quarantine” is powerful, showing a couple in love at the beginning just trying to live, it takes place in year 1 of the outbreak…during this year there is the birth of their daughter and the mother being put in containment. From here we see the Father’s downfall as he breaks into a man’s home to still his food for his dying wife. The visuals are great, and my biggest problem is the electronic music in the background…it distracts from the scenes that are taking place, and we never see the daughter’s reaction to her father beating a man to death. Though we do get a flashback of the mother when she was dragged to containment. Still a good short film though.

8 / 10

All Fall Down

“All Fall Down”

“All Fall Down,” achieves what it needs to do to show that this is no longer the world of the humans. This takes place in Year 5 of the outbreak. We see a single mother raising her son…recounting to us how nearly all of humanity is dead and that there is danger lurking in the darkness. We see what the world has become “With people trading things they need for what they want…memories of a world they will never have again.” It is powerful and ends with an ape raiding the mother’s food (which we never see the ape proper…just it’s eyes from the darkness). It ends with the feel of humanity under siege. It does just what it needs to do to capture the desolation of humanity and the foreboding danger of the rise of the apes.

10 / 10

Story of the Gun

“Story of the Gun”

“Story of the Gun,” tells the story of the fall of man over the course of 10 years using a gun as way to do so. We first begin 10 years later with a man running from apes shooting wildly, before we flash to the past. The first owner is a boy who is learning how to hunt with his dad, after he trades the gun away for supplies and medicine it goes to a mother infected with flu trying to protect her kids after her a U.S. Marshall gets the gun and goes from law abiding to attacking a Latino family for supplies…he is later killed by one of the roving gangs. After the owner is a slightly mad conspiracy nut who ends up killing himself after his gang gets killed and he realizes he is alone in the home they’ve commandeered…last is the man we saw the beginning who is trying to protect his adopted daughter. They are in the forest when we hear the apes attack, he drops the gun and we see an ape’s shadow standing over it.

This film is the most ambitious, and it mostly succeeds. It’s biggest problem is it should have been longer. The second woman who owns the gun gets no exploration at all and we don’t see what the conspiracy guy was like before the fall in his memories…same goes for the last guy who mostly functions to show the threat of the apes and functions less as a character.

For this reason…final score is 8.5 / 10.

If you like short films you will probably get a kick out of this. It was masterfully done and shows the fall of humanity and the rise of the apes via what is hinted out throughout all the films. This was a nice break, as the next time I return to the “Planet of the Apes Franchise Retrospect,” it will be to review “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.” These films set the stage so well for the upcoming film, leaving “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” a lot of deliver.

These are all solid productions and I’d rate the whole overall as a 9 / 10.

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Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011): A Great Retelling of the Origins and Rise of Caesar

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

      “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” is the perfect reboot. It honors the original material while still taking an original approach to characters, origins and style. The film is directed by Rupert Wyatt and rather than taking a Nuclear War approach or Time Travel in regards to how the apes became intelligent…he takes the route of an artificial virus that grants intelligence and regeneration of the brain. Without saying more here is the premise. 

    The Premise of “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” is Caesar becomes the orphan at a biotech company named Gen-Sys after his mother (Bright Eyes) is killed when she tries to defend him from the testing she went through that made her more intelligent. After the Chimps are ordered to be euthanized but Caesar is saved by the Chimp handler who gives him to the bio-tech scientist Will (played by James Franco) who takes him and raises him. From here the story unfolds.

Pros: Inspiration from the subject material – The movie clearly takes inspiration from “Battle for the Planet of the Apes,” with Will in the place of Armando…the one good human compared to all the abusive ones who Caesar comes in contact with. The slave camp is replaced by the Ape Sanctuary (tied to Gen-Sys who is doing testing on Apes) and Caesar’s break in this comes when he feels that Will and his wife Caroline are forced to leave by the owner of the Sanctuary. From here he chooses his people and rises to win them freedom and a home. The Simian Flu is in play as well with it’s beginnings here…but rather than targeting dogs and cats…it targets people. There is also news about the launch of the Space Flight that is the ship that crashes beginning the original “Planet of the Apes.” 

The Writing – The writing is fantastic. The idea of strengthening the human mind through drugs and healing it…in order to prevent or heal Alzheimers is what we are trying to do now. In that way the writing is relevant to today as well as showing the cost of Alzheimers on the person going through it and their family (via Charles Rodman played by John Lithgow). 

The Special Effects – The Apes look like Apes with Andy Serkis once again owning his role, this time as the main character Caesar. We see how he is like an ape but how different he is too (his standing tall) and his voice sounds like how a talking Chimp would probably sound like. 

Caesar – Roddy McDowell was a great Caesar, but Serkis is better. The reasons behind this is the change between “Battle” and “Conquest” isn’t handled as well and neither is his getting the Apes to join him in a slave revolt. He just looks at them. Caesar learns from Maurice how to earn the respect of the Apes and what he needs to make them intelligent (the virus). Serkis’s Caesar’s arc makes much more sense…and his reason for not hurting people makes sense too given that he was raised by humans and we see that being raised by humans. In “Battle” he is already fully grown. 

Will Rodman – Great work to James Franco. His character is complex – Ethics versus Job…and you can see how he grows to care for Caesar and is in the end the one who needs to let go because Caesar has chosen to lead his people. He is fantastic in this movie. 

Charles Rodman – John Lithgow gives us a reason to motivate Will to find the cure to Alzhiemers and he does it masterfully. We see his powerlessness and the moments of hope when the virus is helping his brain become sharper…to when it is all lost. 

Maurice – The Orangutan adviser is the one who teaches Caesar how to integrate and become a leader and is also the one shows Caesar that the apes as they are currently don’t have the wisdom to get out of anarchy, leading Caesar to get the virus and use it make the apes as intelligent as him. 

Dodge Landon – Tom Felton plays a wonderfully cruel character. He is the character who says, “Get your hands off me you damn dirty ape.” Showing how the words are used to oppress and how the apes are seen by most people. His death when he tries to kill Caesar is rewarding because of how despicable he is. Playing Malfoy taught him well. 

Buck – The Gorilla who Caesar frees first and goes through the cycle of healing from his abuse. He is a great character who has a sad death. It is a fantastic death too though, he fracking punches a Helicopter out of the air! 

Gen-Sys – We see a complex corporation! The Chimp handler stands up for the chimps even though he caves and Will even quits at some point. We see that it isn’t simply a bad company even though profit is it’s main drive…and not people…which leads to the spread of the Simian Flu, so there is that. 

The Apes – We get to see the social dynamic between them as Caesar integrates and becomes their leader. There is complexity with Rocket as the Alpha before Caesar takes him out and makes him a leader underneath him. It is great since Rocket uses brute force but Caesar uses it with a mixture of knowledge and tact. He doesn’t want fear, he wants respect…unlike rocket who just wants fear.

Liberation – We see Caesar organize and teach them, build connections and free the other apes from Gen-Sys. It is great rising action leading to the climax of the battle as all apes in San Francisco become free. 

The final fight – We see strategy as the Apes and Police fight on the Golden Gate bridge…from a bus being used to protect from gunfire, to a gorilla punching a helicopter out of the air…and apes using the upper and lower part of the bridge to reach their opponents. It is a great fight, far better than the one in “Battle for the Planet of the Apes.”  

The Message – The message is one of cautiousness, that before new technologies are used they should be tested and that all life that we know to be intelligent should be respected. It was a good message. 

Okay: The antagonists John Landon (Brian Cox) and Steven Jacobs (David Oyelowo) – John owns the Ape Sanctuary and doesn’t seem to be motivated by anything more than greed, same goes for Steven. They do this well but the roles aren’t memorable and could have been played by anyone. They don’t elevate the role the way Dodge was. Steven goes between being seen as super cautious and super reckless…he is what the script needs him to be basically. 

Caroline (Frieda Pinto) – She’s generic love interest who I wish had been given more to do. She is their for Caesar and after their for Will and that is the most of her role is. Still, much more depth than Areanna and Nova. 

Cons – Not enough time with the Apes – We’ll probably get this in “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” the upcoming sequel…but I wanted to see more of the relationship between the different types of Ape. We never really got that outside of Caesar’s relationships. That is the only con I can think of besides fleshing out the characters I listed as okay. 

    After re-watching this film after not seeing it for some time…it is one of my favorite films. It is better than the Original Planet of the Apes Series as far as execution of the story is concerned and even has a better Caesar…which is saying something since Roddy McDowell was quite amazing. I would highly recommend this film. 

My final Score for this film is 9.75 / 10. 

     Only reason it doesn’t have a full score is because of the issues of the okay characters and the con of not giving us more of the complexity among the apes. I must admit that I am quite excited to see “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” after watching this and can’t wait to review it in a few days.