Many films arrive at Comic-Con and show off incomplete footage, with special effects still left to be tweaked or green screens peeking out of the back of scenes. But Dawn of the Planet of the Apes pulled off something of a miracle, bringing footage to Comic-Con while they were still in production, but managing to have actual complete shots of Caesar in action. Given that Caesar is an ape created entirely through Andy Serkis's motion-capture performance and huge teams of computer animators, that's a pretty damn impressive turnaround.

The only look at Caesar in action that's been released to the public is this impressive image, but to see Serkis himself up on the Hall H stage-- you know they give a warm welcome to the man who is Gollum, Captain Haddock and Caesar-- along with his director and co-stars, check out this footage from the film's Hall H panel, recently released by Fox. Matt Reeves steps out onstage first, wearing a straw fedora that makes him look just a few steps away from his new shuffleboard game (maybe a trip to sunny San Diego in the middle of film production is essentially a vacation?) He's eventually joined by Keri Russell and Jason Clarke, who play two of the few humans in the movie, and of course Serkis, who talks about having played Caesar from infancy to roaring adulthood in the first film, and now having the challenge of showing Caesar's evolution as a leader.

Though I knew from earlier reports that the film took place a good time after Rise of the Planet of the Apes, when most of humanity has been wiped out by that virus we saw hopping the globe in the end credits, I was surprised to hear Serkis talk about Caesar's status as a husband and father to a teenage son. Judy Greer was cast some time ago as Caesar's love interest, but somehow I was expecting a romance story, not an established family dynamic. And though Keri Russell seemed to clearly just be vamping for reasons to say she was excited about the role other than the chance to reunite with her Felicity writer Reeves, what she said about the two groups of families was interesting. Will Dawn give us more of a reason to sympathize with the humans than Rise did? We know from our Charlton Heston history that the humans don't stick around long, but even when knowing their inevitable demise, Reeves may be trying to get us to root for them anyway. Hey, it worked in Titanic.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes comes to theaters July 18 next year. And now, for something only barely related, a selection from Stop The Planet of the Apes, I Want to Get Off! starring Troy McClure.

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