Dawn of the Planet of the Apes stills

There's a war on between apes and men. And make no mistake: man is on the losing side. A sprawling epidemic has ripped through the human population of Earth, leaving behind a pitiable crew of survivors, who are trying to forge a new home and new Earth in what was once San Francisco. But to live through the day, these trespassing homo sapiens will need to make peace with the ruler of this land, an intellectually advanced ape named Caesar. See him in all his glory up top.

In Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, audiences are offered the second installment of the saga of Caesar. And USA Today is offering a slew of stills from the fast approaching sequel to Rise of the Planet of the Apes. These selected shots give us a look at both sides of this battle for the planet, from the humans--played by Keri Russell, Jason Clarke, and Kodi Smit-McPhee--and the apes, performed via motion-capture by Andy Serkis, Toby Kebbell and Judy Greer. Check out some of our favorite shots below, including one where Caesar wields a shotgun.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes stills

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes stills

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes stills

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes stills

Director Matt Reeves, who broke through helming the 2008 monster movie Cloverfield, spoke candidly about how Dawn of the Planet of the Apes will fit into the larger story of the Planet of the Apes film series. "We've got apes on horses," Reeves told USA Today. "There is a sense in the beginning of the movie that apes have inherited the Earth. You see the species as it takes dominion over the planet. It's an ape-world. That's the fun of it." But he confessed:
"We all know it doesn't become Planet of Humans and Apes; it becomes Planet of the Apes. But this is that one moment of time where there is hope for humans."

He went on to explain that this band of humans exists at a critical juncture in the planet's history. "The small group of humans are struggling to come back from devastation, and the apes are fighting for survival," Reeves said. "The big question is, can they co-exist?"

While we all know the ultimate answer to this question, the journey of how Dawn will link to Planet of the Apes is what makes this latest addition to the franchise so fascinating. Personalizing the stakes involved, both sides are fighting not only for the futures of their species, but also for the future of their families. Serkis, who reprises his role as Caesar, explained, "Caesar not only has a wife, but also an infant son and a teenage son. This film centers around the notion of family — the survival of the family and what lengths you would go to to protect them when life is extremely hard and tough."

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes will hit theaters on July 11th.

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