The Planet of The Apes franchise continues next year with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, which follows up on the battle between apes and men as established by the 2011 reboot, Rise of the Planet of the Apes. The world of humans has greatly deteriorated due to the release of “ALZ-113”; an experimental viral-based Alzheimer’s drug that is lethal to humans. The result was worldwide pandemic and in-fighting between human factions.

The apes, who benefit from “ALZ-113” with increased intelligence, seem to be doing better than ever. It seems that after they fled across the Golden Gate Bridge, leaving San Francisco (and the humans) on the other side, ape leader Caesar has established a stronghold in the Muir Woods redwood forest. It appears that a showdown between the two sides is imminent. Looking at the trailer, the humans seem to want a peaceful resolution, but the apes, with their war paint and spears, have something else in mind.

Check out new images of the human characters in the sequel/played by Gary Oldman (RoboCop), Keri Russel (The Americans) and Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty). We’ve lined them into a banner style meant to contrast the previously-released Ape character posters:

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The official movie website gives a brief tour of Muir Woods and San Francisco; the ape encampment is both militaristic and terrifying, with eerie Muir Woods shrouding the crude ape structures in moss and mist. San Francisco is in ruins, slowly being reclaimed by nature as the last of the humans try to hold on to their society and survive in a world where they are no longer the dominant species.

Directed by Matt Reeves (Cloverfield), the movie will no doubt be full of action and excitement, but we should also expect to see a film that is more character-oriented and psychological than plot-driven. With Andy Serkis (known for his convincing work as Gollum) as Caesar, we should except to see a good portion on the movie focusing on his evolution as the leader of the increasingly intelligent ape species.

A character-driven film would be a welcomed addition to the franchise at this point in the story. The groundwork has been laid by previous films and the world of Dawn is ripe with interesting characters in dire circumstances. If the film relies heavily on plot it could fall short of expectations because we pretty much already know what is going to happen between the humans and apes; unless Reeves is taking the story in a radically different direction, the smart money is on the apes.

Hopefully there is a healthy mix of raw action and characterization that tackles the philosophical issues behind the conflicting factions. It’s hard to tell this early as we don’t have much to go on besides a brief trailer and some pictures. As we move closer to the release date, we will likely see some additional promotions that will give us a better feel for the film. But it looks good so far.

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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes will be released on July 11, 2014.

Source: Dawn of Apes official site via CBM