Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was spectacular. The follow up to 2012’s amazing Rise of the Planet of the Apes which rebooted the famed franchise, Dawn continues in the same vein with action packed tension and emotional depth. Taking place ten years later, we find the world devastated by the Simian Flu, the deadly virus which kills humans and boosts apes intelligence that was shown spreading worldwide at the close of the first film. Still in the woods outside San Francisco, Caesar has built a developed community and is the leader of a new generation of apes living in peace. This is until a chance encounter between a group of humans led by a man named Malcom, and Caesar’s son Blue Eyes alongside a fellow ape. One of the humans with Malcom shoots Blue Eyes’ friend and the group flees. Caesar decides to lead a large number of apes to the human settlement in a show of force. Riding into town on horseback and clearly establishing himself as the leader, Caesar addresses the human colony telling them if they stay on their land, the apes will stay on theirs. This would be fine if it wasn’t for the hydroelectric damn near the ape’s village which the humans desperately need for power. Malcom convinces their leader Dreyfus (played by Gary Oldman) to give him three days to attempt to make peace with Caesar. Friendships are created and loyalties broken as Malcom and Caesar attempt to preserve peace contrary to the wishes of Dreyfus who arms the humans for conflict and Koba, Caesar’s second in command who despises humans for the treatment he received under their care before the outbreak. The film is a cinematic triumph as you sympathize with both the apes and the humans. Neither is in the wrong, and despite the emergence of one distinct villain over the course of the film, everyone involved is just trying to survive and make a life for themselves. The scenes between Malcom and Caesar are by far some of the most powerful as Caesar comes to realize that there are plenty of decent humans left and that despite his naïve point of view, there are plenty of evil apes. The film contrasts the societies of the apes and humans in wonderfully unique ways to show that while we are different, we are very much the same. This realization of equality is all the more heart wrenching as the two sides fall deeper and deeper into a conflict which will inevitably lead to all-out war. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes has proven that the first film was not a one hit wonder and that the newly revamped franchise is only going to get better and better. The film is still playing in some theatres so go see it while you still have the chance!