10 years after the events of “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”, the evolved apes now live in a village in the woods outside of San Francisco, having built a little society for themselves. Meanwhile, most of mankind has been wiped out by the simian flu, but a number of survivors still live in a colony in the city.
Both sides haven’t crossed paths in years, but they do again early in “Dawn” and spend the rest of the film in a state of increasing tension. While some believe they can trust each other and live in peace, notably ape leader Caesar (Andy Serkis) and human Malcolm (Jason Clarke), there are warmongering elements in the two camps and conflict seems inevitable…
Without spoiling anything you don’t know already from looking at the marketing materials, this eventually leads to intense and violent action scenes involving the unlikely sight of apes shooting machine guns while riding horses, explosions and whatnot, but for the most part, “Dawn” is more of a character drama, a subtitled one at that, since at least half of the film has the apes talking to each other via sign language.
It’s all very gripping, especially when the focus is on the apes, who are always fascinating to watch, much more so than the humans. Thanks to amazing special effects, the apes are not only incredibly lifelike, they also convey complex emotions.
Like I said, the human stuff (the film also stars Gary Oldman, Keri Russell and Kodi Smit-McPhee, among others) is not as involving as the ape drama, but all the same, this remains one of the best movies of the summer.