I know what you're thinking, the Planet of the Apes series is dumb, so why would I want to watch a film about talking apes taking over the world? (I'm calling out a particular person) Well, your loss, because this summer blockbuster ended up being an incredible summer movie experience. My wife looked at me when the credits began to roll and just said, "Wow".
In the 2011 James Franco led Rise of the Planet of the Apes, we see a man with his pet monkey, Caesar. We know that this is a prequel to the Planet of the Apes, so by the end of Rise, the human race has begun it's rapid destruction. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes takes place 10 years after this event, which means that James Franco is nowhere to be found in this film. You'll quickly find that this movie is more about apes than humans, and you're okay with that. Caesar leads a village of apes in the woods of California, and they live pretty peacefully. They aren't war hungry, violent creatures like you would think; they are a family. They also don't have an inherent hatred for humans, because they just want to live in peace.
When a group of humans do cross their path, things get a little hairy. What I would assume is a commentary on gun control, the apes hate human weapons. This is no Michael Bay movie; the creators put a special weight on the use of guns, making each moment a human carries a gun extremely tense. While the humans are at peace with the apes, you feel that any second a single gunshot could start a war. The whole movie is extremely tense because a part of you will want the apes and humans to completely avoid a war. Unfortunately, this is a prequel, so you know what's coming. When it comes, all that tension that build up since the beginning all explodes into a disturbing, heart-wrenching bloodbath.
Andy Serkis (Gollum, Lord of the Rings) did an amazing job as Caesar. Not only that, but the animation of the apes was second to none. There was probably more emotion conveyed by the apes than the humans, and that couldn't have been done with out the absolutely stunning special effects. The apes are the characters you care about, and the movie only becomes more powerful due to how life-like these animals actually look. Also, the apes ride horses, so that's reason enough to see the film.
It's hard accept a movie like this because of the absurd nature of the plot. In a world of sequels and remakes, people sigh and shake their heads when a classic from their childhood gets rebooted for the current generation. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes stands out, and while the film may be the 8th in the Apes franchise, they managed to make it a great film. If you're looking for a summer blockbuster, skip Transformers and go give this movie your $10. I promise you won't regret it.