Film & TV

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Is Much Better Than Its Predecessor

Who knows why, but the sight of apes sitting tall and proud on horseback is stirring in a primal way. That's one of the best images in Matt Reeves's Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the sequel to the enormously successful 2011 Rise of the Planet of the Apes (directed by Rupert Wyatt), in which a bunch of chimps, after breathing in a vaporized version of a special serum, become super-smart and break out of chimp jail, running roughshod over the Golden Gate Bridge and scurrying to eternal safety in the Redwood forest. If you've seen the first movie, or even if you haven't, you may wonder, as two fellow critics and I did, if a Rise shouldn't actually come after a Dawn. Or perhaps they should occur simultaneously?

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Stephanie Zacharek was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in criticism in 2015. Her work appears in other Voice Media Group publications.,