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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Review Critics


Dave White Profile

Survival of the apest. Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0

    out of 100

    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 100

    out of 100

    Variety Guy Lodge

    An altogether smashing sequel to 2011's better-than-expected “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” this vivid, violent extension of humanoid ape Caesar’s troubled quest for independence bests its predecessor in nearly every technical and conceptual department.

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  • 100

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    The film forges ahead, in vivid 3-D, with such energy, expertise and thunderous conviction that you readily accept its basic premise — the pell-mell emergence of great intelligence, plus moral awareness, in primitive bodies — and find yourself exactly where the filmmakers want you to be, swinging giddily between sympathy for the apes and the humans in what threatens to become all-out war.

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  • 100

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Todd McCarthy

    Dawn of the Planet of the Apes manages to do at least three things exceptionally well that are hard enough to pull off individually: Maintain a simmering level of tension without let-up for two hours, seriously improve on a very good first entry in a franchise and produce a powerful humanistic statement using a significantly simian cast of characters.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune Michael Phillips

    Whatever audiences think of it, I'd say the latest "Apes" picture is just that: a solid success, sharing many of its predecessor's swift, exciting storytelling and motion-capture technology virtues.

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  • 88

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    It's a provocative sci-fi action film with dynamite special effects, a powerful humanistic theme with echoes of real-life social conflicts, and a truly wondrous performance by Serkis.

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  • 88

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Richard Roeper

    This is an “Apes” for the ages.

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  • See all Dawn of the Planet of the Apes reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 13+

Intense sequel is darker than first, with more weapons.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is the darker, more violent sequel to Rise of the Planet of the Apes, in which the apes take arms against a post-super-virus group of human survivors. Dawn has a higher body count than Rise (with a couple of particularly upsetting deaths), and the violence is more militant/weapons-based than the first film's animal abuse and torture. There's also a bit more language ("s--t," "a--hole," one "f--king") and drinking, but overall the film's jump-worthy moments and intense action sequences make this a thrilling post-apocalyptic movie for both teens and parents. The opposing takes on peace versus war may even spark interesting conversations about history, politics, and war.

  • Families can talk about how violent Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is compared to the first movie. How is it different? What's harder to watch -- the weapons-based violence in this sequel or the animal abuse in the first movie?
  • What's so compelling about post-apocalyptic stories? Why are viewers drawn to humans struggling for survival?
  • Animals are usually depicted as humans' friends or pets, but what do these apes want -- to rule over humans or to just live free and apart from them?
  • Discuss how Caesar's and Koba's approaches to ape-human relations differ. Are there real-life comparisons you can make to their differing world views?

The good stuff
  • message true3

    Messages: The messages in the movie focus on trust, diplomacy, and peacekeeping. Caesar wants to protect the apes, but he also refuses to see all humans as evil torturers. His human counterpart, Malcolm, similarly understands that the apes want what the remaining humans want: to live with their community without fear or danger. There's also a positive message about fathers protecting their sons and sons learning from and looking out for their fathers.

  • rolemodels true2

    Role models: Caesar wants to peacefully co-exist with humans -- with the apes in their part of the world and remaining humans in theirs. He doesn't see all humans as evil or a threat. Caesar is a strong leader as well as a loving father and mate. He urges apes to seek out peace and family, not hatred and vengeance.

What to watch for
  • violence false4

    Violence: More weapons-based violence and a higher overall body count in this film than its predecessor, with apes storming an armory and using the guns. Koba in particular becomes bloodthirsty for war with the humans, and he personally kills humans by crushing them, shooting them, and setting them on fire. Humans retaliate with their own guns, killing many apes. A couple of the deaths are particularly upsetting. Unlike the first movie, there's ape-on-ape violence, with Koba shooting, terrorizing, and in one case killing a fellow ape by throwing him off a ledge. Apes who don't agree with his methods are rounded up and imprisoned. A man is willing to die to kill a lot of apes. An early scene that shows apes hunting has a few scary moments, particularly with a huge bear.

  • sex false1

    Sex: Adults in a monogamous relationship are shown embracing and sleeping next to each other, and an ape couple caresses and hugs.

  • language false3

    Language: More than in the previous film: a few uses of "s--t," "a--hole," "goddamn," and "bulls--t," as well as one "f--king" (as an exclamation, not a reference to sex).

  • consumerism false2

    Consumerism: A few glimpses of old electronics that have been temporarily powered: an Apple iPad, a Canon video camera, and a couple of trucks, as well as a 76 gas station.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false1

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Adults drink alcohol, as does an ape.