Set in 2016, a killer virus, let airborne as a result of a drug that had intended to cure Alzheimer's, desolates half the World's populations. The apes use this opportunity to exploit the Human's weakness and begin to build their own society. Led by Caesar (Andy Serkis) the apes build their own home and society, but the sighting of humans adds discontent among their ranks and with the human race posing a threat, war is strong possibility.
Much like the first film it is the apes that make the film interesting, their emotional struggles are far more engaging and the political and social challenges they face are far more immersive than that of their human counterparts. Andy Serkis' performance as Caesar is superb as are the digitally created and motion captured apes. Ape-Ape interactions are by far the most interesting, the discontent of some of the apes is well done, their society's structure and way of life makes for interesting viewing and the side story of Caesar's seriously ill love interest is poignant to watch. The ape-human interaction is also quite interesting as the film presents interesting ideas about diplomacy and democracy as tension grows because one wrong move could result in a devastating outcome.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is spectacularly designed, James Chinlund's set designs are stunning as the ape's forest home is vividly brought to life and Matt Reaves does a good job sustaining tension and keeping the pace even thus making the film enjoyable throughout. Reaves does this despite the rather straightforward and mostly predictable story from Mark Bomback and co which manages to hit every cliché there is. Apart from interesting themes, the story itself isn't too memorable, but it is very well executed as Reaves keeps the pace even and superbly helms the film's main battle sequence, which is undoubtedly the film's highlight.
However, the emotions and trials of the human characters remains much to be desired, there is the typical arsehole whose only purpose is to antagonise the apes, there is Kerry Russell's Ellie who must be the only women on the planet (Keri Russell is the only, noticeable, female with a speaking role) and the only thing I found noticeable about Kodi Smith Mcphee is how much he has grown since I last saw him. You may as well add the two expendable characters to the list of forgettable humans, these two characters so expendable the film doesn't even bother explaining that happened to them. Much like the first film the human characters are largely forgettable but as the main focus shifts from human to ape it can be the case that the human characters are so poor they may as well be billed behind Ape 47.
The human characters leave a lot to be desired, but Matt Reaves really does excel as director as he keeps the tension and pace consistent.