Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is on one level a movie about conflict. There is the obvious and inevitable surface conflict between the growing nation of apes and the diminishing human survivors. Then, another layer down is the conflict of reason within each side - Malcolm and Caesar for peace, Koba and Dreyfus for war. And then, yet another layer down are the internal conflicts within each character, especially within Caesar - although he does not want war, will Caesar lead the apes when the inevitability of the impending conflict comes to pass, or will his empathy towards the humans cause his authority to be questioned, allowing Koba to succeed him as the apes leader.
Following the tweets from the lucky few members of the US press that were present at an early test screening of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, many of those present have released small reviews summarising their opinions, and it looks like the second movie in the Planet of the Apes reboot trilogy may just surpass its predecessor.
"Manages to do at least three things exceptionally well that are hard enough to pull off individually: Maintain a simmering level of tension without let-up for two hours, seriously improve on a very good first entry in a franchise and produce a powerful humanistic statement using a significantly simian cast of characters. In the annals of sequels, Dawn is to Rise of the Planet of the Apes what The Empire Strikes Back was to Star Wars—it’s that much better" - Todd McCarthy @ THR
"An altogether smashing sequel to 2011′s better-than-expected “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” this vivid, violent extension of humanoid ape Caesar’s troubled quest for independence bests its predecessor in nearly every technical and conceptual department, with incoming helmer Matt Reeves conducting the proceedings with more assertive genre elan than “Rise” journeyman Rupert Wyatt." - Guy Lodge @ Variety
"The script by Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, and Mark Bomback is about what violence does to communities, so while it is indeed an action film at times, and there are some thrillingly staged sequences that director Matt Reeves has imagined, I found myself actively rooting against any action in the film simply because I cared about all the characters enough that I didn't want to see any of them, human or ape, end up in harm's way, and it's obvious from early in the film that things are not going to end well." - Drew McWeeny @ HitFix
"You still will not be prepared for the scope, intelligent vision and accomplishment (both technical and emotional) of the superior, intense, terrifying, exhilarating and altogether spectacular sequel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Though we are only two moves in to this reconfigured Apes franchise – and we have a long way to go before reaching the point of introduction that occurred way back in 1968 – its evident that there is ample life and innovative storytelling in the Apes series, which should pave the way for a bleak but creatively bright future." - Sean O'Connell @ Cinema Blend
"The sequel to sci-fi franchise reboot Rise Of The Planet of the Apes is heavier on ape-vs-human action than its predecessor and lighter on the kind of intimate drama that three years ago made the reboot a surprisingly affecting late summer hit. As such, the relatively generic Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes is less emotionally resonant than Rise but possibly better equipped - especially with the addition of 3D - to fill its role as a midsummer box office earner aimed particularly at the international market." - John Hazelton @ Screen Daily