I agree. Dawn was fantastic. The story was far more gripping than the first one, and the CGI just blew me away. I would say the visual effects lie up there with Gravity, Avatar, and RotS, if not topping all of them. I seriously could not tell whether or not they used real apes or mo-capped, it was masterfully done.
As for the story:
Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)
I don't know if it was intentional, but I really loved how there was a "role-reversal" when it came to the behavior of the apes and the humans. Koba acted out of hatred and anger, a "human" thing to do, and ultimately was the main villain of the story. Gary Oldman's character, however, attacked the apes because he was afraid of losing his territory, which is similar to how animals act. He wasn't necessarily evil or sinister.
At least that's what I got out of it.