Dawn of the Planet of the Apes ★★★½

I loved "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," so imagine my disappointment when my biggest problem with "Dawn" is that I simply didn't find it that entertaining. That wasn't the only problem, but for a movie I'm ultimately giving 3.5 stars it's a big one.

Let's start with some positives. The effects are absolutely amazing, and we're finally reaching a point where in 10 years they won't start to look dated. The visual design is also fantastic. The overgrown cities are suitably post-apocalyptic, and the look of the apes' village is superb.

The overall story is alright. We get a sense of the isolation the apes have developed in, and them coming back into contact with humans after years is a solid springboard for a story. I found though that through the long middle act we simply had too much 'treading water'. It looks like humans and apes are going to go to war. Wait they're all good. Wait, now the relationship has been sabotaged. Wait now they've fixed it. Too much of this. *Minor spoiler* Later though there is a great sequence when shit finally gets real, and the panic and confusion of the human characters as the apes finally attack and begin rounding them up, is effective and chilling. *end spoiler*

Like all prequels, the rebooted Apes series has to deal with the fact that since we know the end point, we lose the enjoyment of not knowing where things end up. However "Rise" had three entertaining, distinct acts that stood on their own. "Dawn" seems to be more about the inevitably of the end point, and there's less joy in getting there.

So other than the story, what wasn't great? The human characters were flat. The music was uninspired; we get the "Lost" tv show touching music scene too many times. You know: no dialogue or sound effects, simply light piano with an eventual upswelling of stringed instruments. I got sick of this in Lost, and it definitely wore on me by the third time here.

In movies where I'm not totally on board, I tend to start to pick at the logic flaws. Example: it's been 10 years since the fall of society and there's an armory stock full of military weapons that no one has touched, that everyone knows about?

I feel I may even be generous with 3.5 stars. I'm giving "Dawn" though the benefit of the doubt and definitely do want to rewatch it, but I'll have expectations in check and hopefully can enjoy it more on its own merits.