Review: 'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes' eclipses other summer action fare

Koba (Toby Kebbell) socializes with the humans in “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.”

TM and © 2014 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.  All Rights Reserved.  Not for sale or duplication.

Koba (Toby Kebbell) socializes with the humans in “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.”

A growing nation of genetically evolved apes led by Caesar is threatened by a band of human survivors of the devastating virus unleashed a decade ...

Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi vioelnce and action, and brief strong language

Length: 130 minutes

Released: July 11, 2014 Nationwide

Cast: Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Toby Kebbell

Director: Matt Reeves

Writer: Mark Bomback

More info and showtimes »

Advertising for “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” suggests it is another summer film in which abundant action scenes obliterate any serious story or character development.

First impressions can be deceiving.

“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” — the updated tale of how apes surpass man as the dominate species — has plenty of big battle sequences. But it also gives equal time to personal issues like respect, loyalty and family. The combination makes “Dawn” a solid pick.

“Dawn” takes place 10 years after events of “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” While the apes have been hiding in the wooded areas near San Francisco, an epidemic has wiped out all but small pockets of humans. One such pocket exists on the streets of San Francisco.

The humans are running low on resources, and their only hope is to revive a power source at a nearby dam. But to get to the structure, they have to deal with the apes.

Gary Oldman is an emotionally broken leader in “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.”

TM and © 2014 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.  All Rights Reserved.  Not for sale or duplication.

Gary Oldman is an emotionally broken leader in “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.”

Director Matt Reeves (“Let Me In”) gives “Dawn” a very human touch, both through the emotional complexities of the humans and the social structure of the apes.

The humans are a mix of the cautiously hopeful main ape contact, Malcolm (Jason Clarke); the deeply determined caregiver, Ellie (Keri Russell); and the emotionally broken leader, Dreyfus (Gary Oldman). They represent the best and worst that mankind still has to offer.

They’re counterparts are good-hearted leader Caesar (Andy Serkis), inquisitive scholar Maurice (Karin Konoval) and ambitious adviser Koba (Toby Kebbell). They show that while the apes strive to rise above the foibles that make mankind so flawed, they are developing into a society with equally as many problems.

Reeves blends these well-developed characters with some extremely impressive battle sequences, especially the showdown for control of the city. The computer-generated apes are nearly flawless, especially in how much emotion they show. It’s a light year beyond the ground-breaking makeup used in the original “Planet of the Apes” film series.

The only technical blemish in “Dawn” is a lackluster 3-D element that looks flat. Bad 3-D has become a recurring theme in movies.

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