With the latest full trailer for Matt Reeves’ Dawn of the Planet of the Apes poised to drop, 20th Century Fox invited a handful of film journalists to a small studio in New York City to preview chunks of footage from this summer’s simian sequel. The trailer was included in the reel (you can view it right here, if you haven’t yet seen it), as were several larger scenes that will play out in the upcoming movie. We learned some very interesting facts that fill in some of the gaps from the trailer. If you are interested in the Apes sequel you are going to want to know the following.
Needless to say, the rest of this feature gets into spoilers for this summer’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, so please click away if you don’t want to know what’s coming up!
The Apes Have Created A Community In The ForestThe action in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes takes place 10 years after the events of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, where a lab-created virus created a race of genetically superior apes who broke free from their prisons and escaped into the woods outside of San Francisco. At this stage, the virus has done severe damage to the human population, and a small band of survivors are trying to figure out how to sustain our race.
Meanwhile, the smartest apes – led by Caesar (Andy Serkis, in all of his motion-capture glory) – have created a self-serving community that they hope to protect. They don’t want to interact with the human. They don’t want a conflict with the humans. They want peace in the area Caesar refers to a "home." But we wouldn’t have much of a movie if that were allowed to happen, now, would we?
The Humans Stumble Into The Apes’ Community, And Create A ProblemGun-control advocates will have a field day with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, as you will realize that all might have been OK between the terrified humans and the still-developing apes if not for the power of the hand gun. We get scenes of the apes peacefully fishing, communicating through grunts and sign language, and just doing their own thing. One human has to arrive on the scene and mess the whole balance up, though.
But it’s not Gary Oldman (despite his aggressive stance), and it isn’t even Jason Clarke who make the first mistake when it comes to the peaceful relations between the human and ape communities. From what we saw of the footage, Clarke actually plays a mediator of sorts between Caesar and Oldman’s character, Dreyfus. Neither side necessarily wants conflict, and Clarke’s character tries repeatedly to appeal to cooler heads. But as we got deeper and deeper into the footage, it’s clear that war beyween the species is inevitable.
The Apes Can Read And TalkIt was a big moment at the end of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, when Caesar finally spoke to James Franco’s character. It showed how far this ape had progressed – how much closer to human these experiments had become.
In Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the mo-capped creatures are evolving at a rapid clip. In one scene, we see an ape reading a book alongside a human child, interacting peacefully and communicating the main points of the story. And in a pivotal confrontation between the apes and the humans, Caesar (Andy Serkis) is able to communicate through clear words that his ape followers do NOT want to fight, but they will go to war if necessary to defend the life they have established for themselves in the forest.
We are not quite at the level of communication that we were when apes spoke to Charlton Heston in the initial run of Planet of the Apes movies. But director Matt Reeves is allowing his characters to make progress… and it’s disturbing.
There Are A Lot Of Apes. A Lot."That’s a hell of a lot more than 80," Gary Oldman says to Jason Clarke in a crucial scene shown as part of our footage. You can tell that Clarke’s character was doing his best to downplay the presence of the ape population, to assuage the paranoid fear of Oldman’s character and to try and prevent the war that both men can see coming. A door opens. The men look outside at the army of apes who have gathered for a conference. And it is an army.
Matt Reeves inherited the ape franchise, but has a team of CGI experts who have crafted meticulous members of the ape community. We saw scenes of apes swinging through the jungle hanging from trees and skirting across branches as they prepared for war. It was like the Golden Gate Bridge scene from the original movie, amped up to extreme levels. And when you go back and watch a clip of the first batch of Planet of the Apes films to see actors in monkey suits, you realize just how far technology has allowed this series to come. The sky really does seem like the limit.
The Apes Can Fire Machine GunsThis was the final scene shown to us at the Fox presentation, and I’m not sure where it fits in the finished movie, but it’s equally amusing and terrifying. An ape character approaches two armed men, and begins to entertain them with his drunken stance. The men are perplexed by the ape. They talk to him, offer him a drink of alcohol, and drop their guard. Big mistake. Within seconds, the ape has disarmed the men, and proven that he’s fully capable of operating a machine gun. What can stop these damn dirty apes now?
The footage screened in New York City was a perfect appetizer for the amazing work Matt Reeves appears to have done on Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. They are still finalizing scenes and perfecting the effects for the film’s eventual release. Look for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes in theaters on July 11, 2014.