The upcoming Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a direct continuation of the plot thread woven by the 2011 Planet of the Apes installment Rise of the Planet of the Apes, wherein human scientist Will Rodman (James Franco) inadvertently contributed to the downfall of civilization; that is, when his experimental Alzheimer’s drug – the viral-based “ALZ-113″ – proved too potent for human intake, and was inadvertently leaked from his laboratory before spreading across the globe, infecting and killing countless people.

Meanwhile, the genetically-enhanced chimpanzee Caesar (Andy Serkis) – Will’s adopted son – was able to escape from the abusive primate shelter where he’d been left, after he exposed his fellow inmates to ALZ-113 (which increased their intelligence) and lead them to safety in the Redwood forest, on the outskirts of San Francisco.

In Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (which apparently won’t include an appearance by Franco’s character), Caesar has become a king among apes, while the scattered and weakened remnants of humanity struggle to survive in a world where they are no longer the dominant species. Individuals on both sides attempt to reach a peace, even as the drums of full-blown war begin to beat louder, day by day…

As expected, the first Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer is the same footage that was shown at the 2013 International Comic-Con. The preview includes glimpses at post-collapse human cities – recalling the overgrown and abandoned buildings featured on TV shows like Revolution and The Walking Dead – in addition to human characters played by Keri Russell (The Americans), Gary Oldman (RoboCop) and Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty) battling apes in the streets – before we get the big money shot of Caesar and his army, clad in war paint and ready for a fight.

Matt Reeves (Cloverfield) took over directing from Rise of the Planet of the Apes helmer Rupert Wyatt on the followup, which Reeves, promises will continue to build towards the future shown in previous Apes installments:

“I wanted to make sure we’re continuing to go along the path of evolution without missing it, it was so delicious to watch in the first movie. It’s not like now they are talking in verse. Hopefully the movie is emotional and thrilling as you watch the apes come into being.”

At Comic-Con, Reeves also mentioned that his Apes movie is more of a psychological and character-driven drama, in the way that it juxtaposes Caesar’s struggle to maintain control over his kingdom with the humans’ ongoing efforts to manage their own fate. Still, it does appear to be heavier on the action elements than its predecessor, but (hopefully) with some good quality sci-fi and philosophy still thrown into the mix.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes opens in theaters on July 11th, 2014.