Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Beat Sheet
Directed by: Matt Reeves
Written by: Mark Bomback and Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver
Characters created by Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver
Based on the novel by Pierre Boulle
Genre: This movie best fits into the Superhero genre. With his intelligence, leadership, and desire to provide the apes with a future, Caesar exercises his special power. However, his nemesis Koba lacks the faith that Caesar has, and tries to overthrow him when the humans arrive. This is Caesar’s curse: he must choose whether or not the apes and humans can coexist… the destiny of both species hangs in the balance.
Opening Image: After a prologue showing the spread of the simian flu, the film opens on the determined eyes of Caesar (Andy Serkis), his face covered with war paint.
Set-Up: Communicating through sign language, Caesar leads the intelligent apes in a hunt for food. When a bear attacks Caesar’s son, Blue Eyes (Nick Thurston), Koba (Toby Kebbell) comes to the rescue. While Caesar admonishes his son to think before acting, Koba tells Blue Eyes that scars make him strong, foreshadowing their conflicting viewpoints. The apes live in harmony with one another, having been apart from humans for the past 10 winters.
Theme Stated: Caesar confides with orangutan Maurice (Karin Konoval); the humans haven’t been seen for two winters, and Caesar believes they have destroyed each other. Maurice notes that apes fight, too, to which Caesar counters, “But we are family.” In his thesis world, Caesar believes that apes can live without the conflict that plagued humans. But the thematic premise questions this: what does it mean to be a family, and who should be deemed worthy of trust?
Catalyst: At 13 minutes, Blue Eyes and his friend Ash (Larramie Doc Shaw) encounter a human, Carver (Kirk Acevedo), in the woods. Fearing for his life, Carver brandishes a gun and shoots Ash.
Debate: The apes call for help and surround the group of humans. Caesar shouts at them to go, ordering Koba to follow them. As Malcolm (Jason Clarke), his son Alexander (Kodi Smit-McPhee), and Ellie (Keri Russell) escape, they tell their leader Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) what they witnessed. Koba reports back to Caesar, suggesting that the apes attack, but Caesar refuses.
The next day, Caesar and the apes approach the human colony on horseback, returning the bag that Alexander dropped. He tells them, “Apes do not want war but will fight if we must,” and orders the humans never to return. Dreyfus confides in Malcolm that their fuel will run out in two to three weeks, and they have no alternative to the dam as a means for power in reaching the outside world. Is a war with the apes inevitable? In a clear case of Stasis = Death for the humans, Malcolm offers to go and reach out to the apes in an attempt to keep peace.
Break into Two: Arriving at the forest, Malcolm goes to meet with Caesar.
B Story: The B Story is the relationship between the humans and the apes. Can the two coexist? Should Caesar only trust the apes around him and consider the humans as a threat? Who is his “family”?
Fun and Games: In the antithesis world, Caesar will have to maintain a balance of knowing whom to trust, the “curse” of his leadership. Malcolm addresses Caesar, telling him why they need access to the dam. Koba doesn’t trust the humans or their “work,” reminding Caesar of his brutal treatment at human hands. Caesar grants the humans permission, but orders all guns turned over to be destroyed. While the humans begin working on clearing access to the dam, Koba sneaks away for a reconnaissance mission at the human colony, discovering a cache of weapons.
Malcolm and the crew make progress in clearing the way to the dam, but when Carver’s hidden gun is discovered, Caesar orders the humans to leave. Malcolm appeals to Caesar once more, discovering that his wife Cornelia (Judy Greer) is ill. Ellie, a nurse, offers to treat her, and Caesar reluctantly allows them to stay for one more day, providing help from the other apes to complete the work. Koba arrives to tell Caesar about the weapons the humans have at the colony, but is angered to see humans and apes working alongside each other. When Koba accuses Caesar of loving humans more than apes, the two fight, but Caesar stops, saying, “Ape not kill ape.” Koba asks for forgiveness, but begins to corrupt Blue Eyes.
Midpoint: Maurice and Alexander bond as the two read a book together. Soon, power is restored, and the humans begin playing music at an abandoned gas station. A and B Stories cross as Caesar shakes Malcolm’s hand, telling Malcolm that he trusts him. In this false victory, the humans and apes stand as one in front of the other apes in the colony, a party at the Midpoint.
Bad Guys Close In: It isn’t long, however, before Koba and his allies use the weapons they obtain to cause chaos. Koba starts a fire in the ape’s home and secretly shoots Caesar, framing the humans and urging the apes to retaliate at the colony. The attack begins, and Blue Eyes is torn by what he witnesses, yet feels a loyalty to Koba, helping the apes round up the humans. Having escaped the onslaught, Malcolm and his family discover Caesar, barely alive. Caesar reveals that his injury is not from a human, but an ape; it is clear that Koba is the source of internal and external bad guys for the relationship of humans and apes.
Back at the human colony, Koba demonstrates this by ordering Ash to kill a human, but Ash refuses, noting that Caesar wouldn’t want that. Koba makes a display of Ash, throwing him to his death, proclaiming, “Caesar gone… apes follow Koba now.” Caesar directs Malcolm to his former home, a place where they can hide and recover. When Malcolm sneaks back to the colony to get a surgical kit, he sees Blue Eyes, telling him that Caesar is alive. Blue Eyes, conflicted from seeing Caesar’s loyal friends locked up like humans, follows Malcolm.
All Is Lost: Caesar tells Blue Eyes that Koba was the one who shot him. Caesar claims responsibility, saying he chose to trust Koba simply because he was an ape. He thought apes were better than humans, but now realizes how similar they are. His family has fallen apart as a result, and he senses the whiff of death for the apes’ future.
Dark Night of the Soul: Blue Eyes wants to help Caesar take back control and frees the apes loyal to him. Back at the house, Caesar finds an old camcorder with a video of him and his former owner, Will. Caesar tells Malcolm that Will was a good man, just like Malcolm. As A and B Stories begin to meet, Caesar realizes that for both species to have what they want, they need to learn to coexist, a representation of their synthesis world.
Break into Three: The loyal apes, having escaped, gather with Caesar, preparing to Storm the Castle.
Finale: Having gathered the team, Caesar and the apes go underground with Malcolm to sneak into the colony. Malcolm finds Dreyfus, who plans to use C4 to take down the tower the apes are on while radioing for help. Caesar fights Koba, and in a high tower surprise, Dreyfus detonates the C4, killing himself to save humanity. The tower falls, and Koba dangles from a platform as Caesar approaches. Koba reminds him, “Ape not kill ape,” but as Caesar sees all the injured apes, the result of Koba’s rebellion, he digs, deep down to embrace the theme. “You are not ape,” Caesar tells him, then lets go. Malcolm urges Caesar to flee before a war begins, but Caesar states, “War has already begun… ape started the war… human will not forgive.” Although Caesar and Malcolm see the possibility for coexistence, they realize others will be quicker to judge whom to trust.
Final Image: As the apes bow to Caesar, the final image rests on his eyes… only this time, they are sadder and wearier.