War For The Planet Of The Apes has dominated the opening few days of New York Comic Con, with director Matt Reeves, producer Dylan Clark and the living God that is actor Andy Serkis deciding to premiere not just the teaser trailer for the third installment to the franchise, but an extended 7-minute clip from the film as well. Want details of both? Of course you do. Thankfully, I was there to bask in the glory of this footage, and it was utterly spectacular.
WARNING: The following contains some teeny tiny SPOILERS for War For The Planet Of The Apes. So those of you that want to see the film with fresh eyes probably shouldn't read ahead.
Here's What We Saw
Two years after the events of Dawn, and with war raging between apes and man, a guilt-ridden Caesar (Andy Serkis), who is still distraught after breaking the rule of ape not killing ape established in Rise by murdering Koba, Maurice (Karin Konoval), Rocket (Terry Notary) and a gorilla that we haven't met before head out on a dangerous mission to find the new human leader- the Colonel (Woody Harrelson).
On their journey, they come across a cabin in the woods. After dismounting their horses and exploring the area, Maurice, Rocket and the unnamed gorilla encounter a man carrying firewood. They point their guns at him and inform him to set down the wood. As the man cautiously does so he then quickly tries to get his own weapon only for Caesar, who was out of shot, to shoot him dead on the spot. Maurice, Rocket and their pal are shocked by the cold-bloodedness of Caesar.
The foursome then cautiously enter the house to steal anything of use for their journey, where they then come across a young girl who looks no older than 10 and is unable to speak. Maurice communicates with the girl, but Caesar informs her to leave her behind. When the apes are preparing to depart the girl comes outside to find her father dead.
Maurice insists that the girl will die out in the cabin alone through the winter, which Caesar disagrees with. Maurice refuses to leave without her, and the final shot is of the foursome, with the girl holding onto Maurice on horseback, continuing on their journey. Caesar shows some annoyance at Maurice for forcing his hand and making the girl join the posse, but he then moves to the front of the pack.
What made this footage even more remarkable was that it was presented in an extremely "raw" fashion. This meant that only a handful of shots' special effects were complete, and we kept cutting to the actors performing in their motion-capture suits. That's something that Matt Reeves later admitted to me made him "horrified" and it felt as though he was "naked in front of the audience times 10."
Matt Reeves and Dylan Clark specifically presented the footage in this fashion, though, to give us both an idea of the production process and a clearer indication of the acting from Andy Serkis and Karin Konoval that goes into these performances, which sometimes gets overlooked because of the special effects used.
But what about the trailer, I hear you ask? Well, here's a breakdown of the teaser, which was an instant reminder of why The Planet of The Apes franchise has quietly become one of the most exciting and audacious in cinema. Unfortunately, when I asked Matt Reeves and Dylan Clark when we could expect to see the trailer for War For The Planet Of The Apes released worldwide they just responded with "soon."
Find out what we saw in the War For The Planet Of The Apes NYCC preview on the next page!
Here's What We Saw
Inside a dark, dripping wet cave behind a waterfall a small squad of soldiers well-equipped with CIA-style weaponry infiltrate the dwelling. We hear human voices trying to communicate over walkie-talkies using army mumbo-jumbo, while green lasers point out of the guns that are trying to find their targets in the darkness.
Over the walkie-talkie we hear, "Target confirmed." Suddenly, though, the soldiers are attacked in this darkness and lasers start to move around the cave uncontrollably. Sporadic gunfire lights up the surroundings as the apes beat down the humans that have invaded their land.
Silence falls as the fight ends, and Caesar walks into the frame, picks up the walkie-talkie as the person on the other end asks, "Did you get the target?" Caesar looks up and spots one survivor of the skirmish, Woody Harrelson's Colonel. Face covered in black camouflage. The pair share a look of war, only for the Colonel to rappel down the waterfall away from his enemy as Caesar runs after him and then jumps through the water.
The trailer then cuts to a sizzle reel of various shots of war, as we see the humans assembling their army with tanks and preparing, Woody Harrelson shaving his head, apes bowing down to Caesar, a fiery battle, a winter mountain compound for the humans, and a snowy fight sequence as apes and humans run towards each other. The last sequence sees Caesar, himself captured and surrounded by human soldiers, kneeling down in front of the Colonel, who points a gun towards his head. However, rather than simply succumbing to what looks like an inevitable death, Caesar leans into towards the gun even further, pushing his forehead against it, practically challenging the Colonel to shoot him.
Meanwhile, the Colonel narrates over the sizzle reel, stating, "All of human history has led to this moment. The irony is, we created them, and nature has punished us ever since." He then adds that "this is the last stand for humanity" and "if we lose, it will become a planet of apes."
Both 2011's Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes and 2014's Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes have delicately combined special effects and blockbuster spectacle in a way that other franchises usually mishandle. As such, critics and audiences have responded glowingly to these films, as Rise and Dawn have scores of 82% and 90%, respectively, on Rotten Tomatoes, and have grossed a combined total of $1.191 billion at the box office, too.
That means that there's now added pressure on War For The Planet Of The Apes to not just match but eclipse its predecessors. We'll get to see if it can do just that when War For The Planet Of The Apes is released on July 14, 2017. Meanwhile, make sure to head back to Cinema Blend for further news regarding War For The Planet Of The Apes, which I gathered during my chat with director Matt Reeves and producer Dylan Clark, both of whom are top notch individuals.