Ten years after the action of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, we have Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Surely, the dawn should precede the rise of anything, but let's not squabble with our blessings-- The Dawn is maybe even better than The Rise was.
And if too much seems to have happened in the intervening years, let's remember that these apes were experimented on scientifically and may be evolving pretty fast. They can't quite talk yet and use a lot of sophisticated sign language, which is subtitled for we poor humans who have learned no ape language at all. Their society is tribal, at best, but they have developed a sort of stick city and are showing signs of turning out all too much like us.
There is a LOT of action in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and a certain amount of character development, and if you want to you can find numerous parallels to recent and current real-world situations, but the movie doesn't push that.
Special effects border on the miraculous, especially the ape faces, which are expressive and individualized. The story is almost too believable for comfort, but that's all the discomfort there is-- despite battle after battle, there is no gloating over gore and pain.
Sentimental scenes are brief, effective and relevant to plot and theme. There is even a baby scene that I liked, which is almost unheard of.
The new Planet of the Apes series promises to be one of the great epics of movie history.