A decade after the release of a deadly disease and the emancipation of San Francisco's ape population, Caesar and his family have built a community, a way of life, and a home. Presuming that they live in a world where mankind has destroyed itself, the apes have thrived, until evidence of man's survival comes in the form of a bullet. When the become aware of men in their forest and men realize that intelligent apes live on the borders of the last remnants of society, tensions build until treachery threatens to destroy any hope for peace.
In this sequel to "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," the plot of "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" shifts to focus on the people, family, and society built and run by super intelligent apes. Far beyond what was originally created in the progenitors to these movies, 'Dawn' succeeds at taking every aspect of an ape nation to amazing heights. Outstripping the acting, dialogue, and the groundbreaking effects of 'Rise,' the CG characters in 'Dawn' are just as alive and often more robust than many of the characters portrayed by the film's living actors. While the film features very well known and popular actors, the CG characters were and are the true stars of this film. At no time is it difficult to believe that the apes speak, love, hate, sorrow, and everything else. Coupled with the performance capture and actors like Andy Serkis, even though the outcome of the film's events are evident, watching and learning about the ape community is nothing less than awe inspiring.
Weta Digital is the company responsible for the character animation and effects used to bring the apes to life. The majority of the techniques used on the 'Apes' films, the "Lord of the Rings" movies, and dozens of other films, is a New Zealand based effects studio. Beyond just capturing a sense of reality, Weta is constantly rediscovering ways to refine their recreations of the real and unreal worlds in ways that make them reality.
Even if one ignores the film's technical triumphs, the plot, dialogue, characters, and interactions succeed at drawing one in and maintaining interest. However, most of this success is heavily weighted on the side of the apes. Even though a good amount of their dialogue comes across in sign language and subtitles, their communication and evocations are much more believable. On far too many occasions, the humans take action, without explanation and it ultimately ends badly for everyone. This may have been intentional, but it came across as a little too convenient and counter intuitive. Regardless, "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" is an amazing film, definitely worth the time and the price of admission.