Rise of the Planet of the Apes took everyone by surprise and ended up being a hit back in 2011. Understandably, some were disappointed that the reboot's director, Rupert Wyatt, would not be returning for the sequel and would instead be replaced by Cloverfield director, Matt Reeves. Well fear not as it sounds like Reeves has something special in store for us!
Thanks to the wonderful folks at Empire, we now have a bit more of a taste of what to expect from the sequel, set to be released on 11 July in the US. The great Andy Serkis, who plays Caesar, presented to the footage to a select few at the 20th Century Lot in Los Angeles. 5 clips in total were shown to the audience.
Clip one presented ‘First Contact’ between apes and humans in this post-pandemic world, around a decade after the events of Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes. The humans are rag-tag and barely surviving; the apes a coherent, dominant unit forming a new civilization in their own, as Serkis describes it, “garden of Eden”. Serkis’ Caesar — troubled, uncertain, flecked with grey hairs — appears alongside his lieutenants orang-utan Maurice (Karin Konoval) and chimps Rocket (Terry Notary) and Koba (Toby Kebbell), and also his ‘teenage’ son River (Nick Thurston). There is no doubt at this stage, out in the wilderness of San Francisco’s Muir Woods (actually shot in Vancouver), who has the upper hand. The humans are sent packing.
Next we saw part of what Serkis called the “Apes Council scene” where the primates debate how to respond to this incursion by humans, who they’d long assumed were extinct. “They apes do speak,” Serkis confirmed beforehand, and described how they settled on a carefully achieved balance of ape vocalisations, sign language, ape gestures and a “prototype language” for presenting ape conversation. This mix is strange, but effective, while both the ape-actor performances and Weta’s digital prosthetics prove immensely impressive; even in this single short clip, the power of these characters’ empathetic pull could be felt. Toby Kebbel’s Koba — the scarred chimp tortured at the lab in the first film — promises to be a stand-out. “Koba and Caesar are like brothers,” Serkis commented.
Clip three showed more of the human side and introduced Gary Oldman’s character, hawkish leader Dreyfus, as Caeser arrives on horseback at the human’s San Francisco base with his ‘army’: a show of strength to warn these homo sapiens never again to enter his own peoples’ territory. “Apes do not want war,” Caesar says in clear English to the astonished and terrified humans, “but will fight if we must.” Oldman’s Dreyfus is, as you’d imagine, appalled. “He’s not just the villain of the piece,” Serkis told us, “but a man who’s struggling to keep his people together.” This is not a film about good and evil, but relatable agendas clashing.
Sounds excellent so far and I know that I'll watch Gary Oldman in anything. Hopefully it will deliver and will not only live up to the high standards set by it's predecessor, but surpass them.
Head over to Empire to read the descriptions of the other scenes shown and to see what else Andy Serkis had to say about the movie
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes will be released on July 11 in the US and July 17 in the UK.