Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes begins where Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes ends. Only it's been ten years since Caesar and his band of escaping simian brethren escaped across the Golden Gate Bridge into the relative safety of Muir Woods. During that decade, the ape group has grown exponentially and formed a community of families and homes and a form of government lead by Caesar and his friends, Koba and Maurice. One day, while out on a hunting trip, Caesar, Caesar's son and Koba encounter a group of human Simian Flu survivors, lead by Malcolm (Jason Clarke). Caesar, pulling himself to full stature, bellows "GOOOOO!!!!!!!" at the humans and the humans quickly flee in terror.
Returning to San Francisco, Malcolm tells human leader Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) about the encounter and the fact that apes can talk. Dreyfus wants to kill the apes but Malcolm convinces Dreyfus to allow him to return to talk to Caesar about the human's need to restart a nearby Dam to provide power to the City. Malcolm, with wife and former CDC doctor Ellie (Keri Russell), returns to discuss this matter with Caesar. Ellie cures Caesar's wife of a deadly infection and thus begins an uneasy truce between apes and humans. However, not all apes are comfortable with this idea including Koba, who hates all humans for the torture he underwent as a lab animal, and former SF water worker Carver (Kirk Acevedo) who thinks the only good ape is a dead ape. How long before they all learn that in every ape is something human and in every man, something animal lurks? Who will emerge as Earth's dominant species.
Sure this blockbuster is not without it's faults, including such groan-inducing gaffs such as a hydroelectric Dam that, having sat vacant for over a decade, springs back to life with only some minor tinkering. Video cameras that still function after having been untouched in years. Laptops that power up instantly. Guns and rifles, unused for years, that still fire without blowing up in your face. However, what this movie will be remembered for is the amazing CGI! Especially the amazing stop-motion performance of Andy Serkis as Caesar. Within minutes of the movie, I totally forgot that what I was watching on the screen was special effects thanks, in large part, to Serkis' astounding acting. The apes are among the more intellectually complex characters you're likely to spend time with this summer. The gritty and realistic portrayal of a slowly escalating conflict between apes and humans until the final battle was spectacular, mesmerizing and ultimately heart-breaking. This movie will make any average viewer forget the improbability of talking apes battling mankind for domination. Andy Serkis should get an Oscar nod for is work in this movie!
One more minor thing I would mention. I first saw Dawn in 3D, and then saw it again in 2D three days later. And in my opinion, 2D is by far the better. I found, especially during the final battle, that the 3D annoyed me. The many and varied items being thrown at the screen made it difficult to figure out who was coming out a victor of that battle. And be sure to sit through the closing credits for a audio hint of what's to come in the sequel!