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‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’: Keri Russell, Gary Oldman and Andy Serkis promise new drama

It’s humans versus apes in 20th Century Fox’s new film “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.” And though, as star Keri Russell points out, the title of the movie doesn’t bode very well for the humans, the actors in the movie make a point of saying this movie is about whether the two warring factions can live harmoniously together.

“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” took over WonderCon Anaheim 2014 with new footage that showed off director Matt Reeves’ style of using motion capture and 3D on location. Gary Oldman gushes to reporters that Reeves “changed the game” on the style of moviemaking because of the way the motion captured characters so seamlessly blend into their real surroundings.

“The movie has a completely different feel and a different look to it than anything you’ve seen previously,” Oldman says. “It’s spooky actually how real it looks.”

Master motion capture actor Andy Serkis creates part of that credibility. He reprises his “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” role of Caesar in “Dawn,” which picks up about 10 years later.

“We arrive at the beginning of the movie from ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ with Caesar 10 years on, so he is actually a much older character that is now a leader, a statesman-like figure,” Serkis says. “He has a lot of responsibility on his shoulders, and therefore there’s a lot of gravitas in that performance. He’s more physically upright. He’s more human-like, I suppose, in his physicality.”

While the humans have struggled to survive after a virus wiped them out, the apes have adopted more human-style lives. “[Caesar] has a wife, he has a teenage son, he has a young infant, so there’s the complexity of when the humans return and he realizes there is going to be an escalating conflict, he really does bear the weight of it on his shoulders,” Serkis teases. “You see a very stressed, worried leader who’s trying to hold up everything, and everything they’ve built; all of the ape community.”

Oldman’s character Dreyfus leads a group of humans who believe they are the last of their kind alive. They also are under the misconception that the apes are no longer a threat.

“They believe that the military’s efforts have taken care of the apes. Then there’s a community of apes who think all the humans have died from the disease, and they are the now predominant species. And they discover that there’s humans — we discover each other — and then the drama is how can they coexist? Can they? Will they?” he teases.

That’s where Russell’s character Ellie comes into play. Though she initially hoped she would play an ape when Reeves — who created her breakout project, “Felicity” — approached her to be in a movie, she quickly realized the purpose of her nurse character.

“She was a nurse and she was helping fight the virus for the remaining humans left and I kind of just go on this adventure,” Russell says. “I think the main thing for my character in terms of the apes is because the story picks up about 10 years later and the virus has killed most of the human population, people really have a fear of the apes. And I think because I had such intimate involvement with the virus, I know it has nothing to do with them and they didn’t create it, so I think I’m much more open to the bridging of working it out.”

She adds of Reeves, “He’s such a good fit for this. Matt has such a vulnerable sensibility and is interested in intricate, character-driven pieces, and I think that’s what he laid into this movie.”

Though it’s easy to hope for a happy ending in “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” the premise lends itself to insurmountable conflict. It also lends itself to a sequel, which Oldman says is already in the works.

“Oh there’s going to be a sequel, don’t worry about that,” he teases. Will he be in it? “I don’t know. They haven’t asked me. Who knows.”

“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” is due in theaters on July 11, 2014.