‘War for the Planet of the Apes’: What We Know


At a recent 20th Century Fox presentation in Los Angeles, director Matt Reeves premiered a few clips from War for the Planet of the Apes, his anticipated follow up to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and the footage looked promising. Reeves showcased footage from various parts of the film, some fully finished – some still requiring rendering. If the rest of the film is as solid as the footage that was shown, audiences are in for a treat.


According to Reeves, “The movie takes place two years after Dawn. No explaining is ever going to make the humans think the apes can be trusted. Caesar has been trying to find some way to survive and he has kind of become a legend. Somehow the apes have managed to survive. They’ve scavenged weapons and retreated to the woods because they know that area. There’s a legend that Caesar has been leading this fight from somewhere deep within the woods. And they’ve been looking for him for two years.”


Courtesy of 20th Century Fox.

War for the Planet of the Apes. Courtesy of 20th Century Fox.


Reeves went on to explain how he experimented with different tones this time around, “There’s plenty of dark stuff you’d expect from an Apes story, but there’s also a tremendous heart in this version of the movie. They meet some new characters. It was a way to bring in a larger world of apes, but also new tones. The movie has heightened everything. It has a tremendous amount of humor that we haven’t had in any of the films yet.” That’s certainly a switch from the darkness of Caesar and Koba in Dawn.


However, Caesar is still majorly affected by the events of Dawn. Reeves goes on to explain, “Like any great war movie, you have the spectacle and the battles. One of the great things about these Ape movies is you relate to these apes… you connect to them emotionally. While this movie is a giant war film, it’s also a war within Caesar’s heart for his soul. He’s feeling guilty that somehow he wasn’t able to see the darkness that was inside Koba, who attacked the humans in the last film.”


Courtesy of 20th Century Fox.

War for the Planet of the Apes. Courtesy of 20th Century Fox.


War for the Planet of the Apes is introducing a new ape to the series, played by Steve Zahn. This ape’s name is “Bad Ape,” and he’s a talking zoo-escapee who was able to survive an onslaught of soldiers – currently residing in a snowy cave by his lonesome until Caesar and friends discover him. According to Reeves, this character is, “heartbreaking on a certain level, but he’s also extremely funny – like a tug to Caesar’s humanity.”


Little has been revealed about the Colonel, played by Woody Harrelson, because according to Reeves, “it would give too much of the plot away.” However, Reeves did give a little hint to his character, explaining that Harrelson is playing “a Kurtz-ian APOCALYPSE NOW type character with great gravitas and intensity.” There’s another new human character, a silent young girl (played by Amiah Miller), “She’s a critical character in the movie. This girl is like a flicker of humanity left there. As the story begins, it’s a revenge story. But as Caesar starts making that journey up the river, he starts finding these other clues that start to fill in a larger picture about the humans, not just about the humans but also about the apes. There’s a big unfolding mystery that unravels.”



War for the Planet of the Apes. Courtesy of 20th Century Fox.


In terms of special effects and motion capture, WETA looks to have completely outdone themselves, “On Dawn, I noticed that the places they were outside in natural light, the ape models themselves looked more real because the lighting is real. You take that photo-real ape in real environments and it looks real. Since my desire was to see the civilization that the apes have created, I wanted to go shoot that in the rainforest. That had never been done. WETA had to take the equipment and make it more robust. In this one, I knew we could do it, because we did it on DAWN. Now I want to go into the mountains and shoot it on snow. The equipment has gotten stronger and stronger and we are able to capture in almost any environment. The other way in which it’s better is WETA has completely rebuilt the pipeline so the detail on the apes and the ability to express the emotions of the actors, that level of realism is startling.”


War for the Planet of the Apes will be released July 14, 2017 in theaters nationwide.



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