Go Bananas: The First 'Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes' Reviews Are In

Monkey business is good.

The monkeys are running the zoo — and by zoo, we mean the "Planet of the Apes" franchise, and by monkeys, we really do mean monkeys.

Even though it's still a couple weeks away from release, "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" reviews are starting to trickle in, thanks to early critic screenings. So far, the reactions are overwhelmingly positive, with some critics calling it an instant classic in the science fiction genre, even if one review is considerably colder. Still, even the harshest "Dawn" review finds praise for Andy Serkis' groundbreaking work as Caesar, the super-smart simian at the heart of the series.

What else are people saying about the latest installment in the "Planet of the Apes" franchise? Read on and find out:

1. Rise Of The 'Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes' Expectations

"Walking in to 'Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes,' I hoped Matt Reeves had made a solid and respectful follow-up, one that expanded on 'Rise' in interesting ways. That's all I wanted from it. What I got instead is a film that digs deep, that challenges not only the notion of what a studio blockbuster looks like but also how sequels are supposed to work in a commercial world, a movie about real ideas with a spectacular sense of character and mood. 'Dawn' is not just a good genre movie or a good summer movie. It's a great science-fiction film, full-stop, and one of the year's very best movies so far." — Drew McWeeny, HitFix.com

2. King of the Serkis

"Whatever anyone might think about the film as a whole, there is no question that Andy Serkis gives the most expressive, soulful, deeply felt performance of a non-human character the big screen has ever offered as the mature Caesar, the ape raised from childhood in captivity who now leads a band of a couple of thousand encamped in the Muir Woods north of San Francisco. His Roman namesake notwithstanding, the historical figure Caesar most resembles is none other than Abraham Lincoln, a wise, compassionate fellow with the common touch, old before his time, his eyes weary from all the suffering he’s seen, a peaceful sort by nature forced by fate to lead his followers in wartime and who is strong enough physically to take on, if pressed, any adversary." — Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter

3. Oh, The Humanity

"'Dawn' would be a triumph if it only focused on the apes, and how they are adjusting to life in an embryonic society. But Reeves places as much focus on the human survivors of the devastating virus, and populates that part of the cast with incredible talents (even as they play recognizable caricatures from a post-apocalyptic drama). Jason Clarke plays the level-headed but unsure leader Malcolm, a man who’d like to re-establish power and resources to his decimated headquarters but has no interest in engaging Caesar and his troops in physical combat. The fiery and distrustful Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) has other motives. His distrust of the simian rivals mirrors the contempt felt by Koba, and there are numerous connections Reeves wants his audience to make between the dilemmas facing both the ape and the human factions. Didn’t this rebooted franchise start as a James Franco vehicle? How did we come so far, so fast?" — Sean O'Connell, CinemaBlend.com

4. Fall Of The 'Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes' Expectations

"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, ScreenDaily.com

5. The Final Word

"It’s always darkest before the dawn, goes the saying — but in resuming a franchise already suspended on a downbeat note, 'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes' sees the simian revolution reaching unprecedented levels of bleak anarchy. 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. Entirely replacing the previous film’s human cast, but crucially promoting Andy Serkis’ remarkable motion-capture inhabitation of Caesar to centerstage, 'Dawn' ought to go ape at the global box office starting July 9, smoothing the path for further sequels to test the franchise’s complexity." — Guy Lodge, Variety

"Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" opens on July 11.