HeyUGuys confidently predict that Dawn of the Planet of The Apes will be a high point of the cinematic year. Matt Reeves’ phenomenal feature weaves the technological mastery of Weta together with uniformly strong performances and an intelligent script, for a film that is as rich philosophically as it is aesthetically.

In the decade since the apes rose, greater San Francisco has all but disappeared. Nature itself appears to have reclaimed the land – reaching out with verdant fingers that choke identifiers from ad boards and gas stations and wrench life back to something more basic. But as the flashy footprint of the human race has been eroded – and its population culled by disease and conflict – the apes have thrived.

Living peacefully together beside the shattered city, the primates carefully school their young to hunt, to fight and to remember one rule above all else: apes do not kill apes. They communicate with concise signs – a Makaton of sorts – and move in breathtaking unison. The correct name for a collective of apes is a shrewdness and the more common understanding of that word could not be better exemplified than in Caesar. The impulsive adolescent, and reluctant leader, of Rise has grown into a mighty king with a growing dynasty of his own.

When survivors stumble into the great ape’s domain and strike out in ignorance, Caesar’s response is inspired. He allows them to leave with their lives – apparently risking his kingdom’s exposure – then sweeps into San Francisco in a demonstration of power which shakes the human enclave to its core. Yet one among his number is dissatisfied with warning gestures and hungers for all out war. While Caesar recalls a time when people were kind, Koba’s scars tell a darker story of the evil that men do.

Ripples of disquiet among the apes are echoed in the human encampment. ALZ-113 survivor Malcolm (Jason Clarke) recognises the need for amity between man and beast – safe passage through the forest will allow his group to restore electricity to the city – and senses in Caesar the same pragmatism. But sanctuary leader Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) is as embittered by his losses as Koba and seeks a similarly bloody solution.

It is through these unexpected echoes – the complex inter-group dynamics – that Dawn of the Planet of the Apes so captivates. The constant moral tug of war, within species, offers threads of commonality without. So that any lazy notions of good guys and bad guys disperse in favour of a more shifting perspective in which we discover empathy for every action. Mark Bomback’s characterisations are smart and believable, he sidesteps cliche and has Gary Oldman’s war mongerer as the conspicuously grieving parent while Jason’s wife, group doctor Ellie (Keri Russell), swallows her pain and soldiers on.

In increasingly tense and painful exchanges between Caesar (Andy Serkis) and Koba (Toby Kebbell) the emotional articulacy in the apes’ faces is breathtaking – this is masterful work on the part of both Weta and the actors. The painstaking skill of these artists allow utter suspension of disbelief and envelop us entirely in the power struggle. The human story is almost surplus to requirement. Nevertheless, when fragile bonds between man and ape are ripped apart the ensuing conflict is compelling.

DOTPOTA encapsulates the spirit of teamwork and reminds us how powerful a big budget can be when it is dispersed with discretion. Michael Giacchino’s dramatic score adds definition and punctuation to the narrative. The production design showcases groundbreaking 3D and allows it to dazzle against a backdrop of richly somber tones – this use of motion capture in real world locations is an undeniable success and, hopefully, a precedent has been set.

Just as a heart-stopping forest hunt heralds the new world order so Caesar’s return to San Francisco pounds the message home. Though peppered with moments of levity, DOTPOTA is a thought provoking and impressive dialogue on the concept of trust which hits no wrong notes. Cinematographer Michael Serasin deftly instills a visual vocabulary that offers both intimacy and scale while Andy Serkis and Toby Kebbell deliver stand out performances which will ensure Dawn a place in movie history.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes opens across the UK on 17th July