The poster for "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" shows a horse-back riding ape, holding his rifle high against a backdrop of the Golden Gate Bridge. Reminiscent of westerns, the plot itself could have worked for any film based on the difficulties that ensue when any two tribes of beings, even much more similar ones, try to share the natural resources of an environment.
This movie is set many years after the events of "Rise of the Planet of the Apes." In that time, the apes have increased their power, while the humans have weakened. In the film, Cesar (played by Andy Serkis) is still the leader of a large group of apes. He now has a wife and children and they, along with the other apes, live in the Muir woods outside of San Francisco. One day, they encounter a scouting group of humans who have survived the virus that obliterated so many of their race. The explorers include Malcolm (played by Jason Clarke) and his son, Alexander (played by Kodi Smit-McPhee). They are shocked that the apes can talk, and they go report this to their leader, Dreyfus (played by Gary Oldman). They need electric power, which they can only access by going into the apes territory.
This movie has a superb screenplay, with situations and dialogue that are the eternal ones of conflict and cooperation between neighboring tribes. The apes and humans are quite similar. Both groups have leaders who embrace or distrust the others. At times, some of them find more to respect in the other group than their own group.
The movie has strong action scenes. These scenes show that the apes are very fast and as skilled in fighting as humans.
The cast is excellent, Andy Serkis is, of course, amazing as Cesar. He is the kind of leader anyone would trust and respect. We see that he has sympathy for humans, which puts him at odds with some of the other apes, such as Koba, who wants to go to war with them, since he sees them as dangerous. Jason Clarke is equally good as Malcolm, who Cesar comes to admire. Another great performance is by Keri Russell, who plays Malcolm's girlfriend, a nurse.
"Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" is an impressive sci-fi film.