I try not to get too personal with my movie reviews, partly because I don't imagine that many people care about me personally, but mainly because I think a movie critique should be as objective as possible. I can't maintain that position when I talk about Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.
For the past year now, I've been studying diplomacy at the post-graduate level, and it's interesting to compare my thoughts on things like world peace (not a punchline) with my thoughts on them now. For example, for a long while I thought that if wealthy nations just set aside a little bit of their vast resources and gave them to poorer countries, poverty would be eliminated. Dipping a bit into macroeconomics shows us that this is sadly incorrect, and it takes a bit more than throwing money at a situation to solve it.
Studying this for the past year, it's been easy to get discouraged hearing about some of the tragedies in world history. It makes me want to go back in time, shake a few people by the shoulders and yell, "Cut it the fuck out, asshole. Can't you see people are dying?" But I know that this would be useless, partly because my weak arms are not fit for the task of shaking anything, and partly because I know the circumstances that lead up to these tragedies, and how complicatedly difficult it would be to avert them, how dangerous mob-rule and in-crowd thinking can be, and how outstandingly complex a simple discussion of peace can be.
Watching Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is like watching a car crash in slow motion for a couple of hours, except instead of a carful of people, you're watching two societies crash into each other. You almost can't even blame the antagonists in this movie, as they have well-justified ideas in their head about the enemy society, and only want what's best for their own people. I see this all the time throughout history, but it's the first time I think it's ever been shown in film.
It's tragic to watch Caesar and Malcom attempt to alter the seemingly inevitable fate of their two worlds. Although the ends seem unfairly stacked against them at every turn, and despite being two reasonable characters with enough influence to create peace, they are destined to fail. However, I don't think the movie offers us a nihilistic view of the world we live in. There was a chain of events that led to war, but had everyone stopped at just one of those links in the chain, tragedy might have been avoided. Instead of suggesting that we give in to our animal nature, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes suggest with a dire warning that we stop on our chain links and take a deep breath.