Cloverfield’s Matt Reeves took over directing duties from Rupert Wyatt for the second movie in the rebooted Apes franchise, Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, with Andy Serkis returning as human-raised super-ape Caesar, joined by newcomers such as Jason Clarke (as a scientist) and Gary Oldman (as a human who has survived the plague that struck humanity in the previous film). Oldman couldn’t make it to Comic-Con this year, but Clarke, Reeves and Serkis could, and here are the details they shared.
Set soon after the events of ROTPOTA – or Rise, as the director refers to it - Reeves is keen to point out that “the movie is not a post apocalyptic film. Caesar rules a primitive but majestic kingdom. [This film is about] the way they come into being. They are thinking and wondering… are the humans gone? Because it’s all from their point of you. Then [once the human survivors are discovered], it becomes a question of survival. Can they co-exist and can they survive? Whether or not they can find a way to live together…”
“I asked them to show me the footage of everything Andy had done wearing the crazy grey suit that he wears, then I watched him up against the footage,” says Reeves, talking about how he first approached the franchise. “It was so emotionally real. I think the key is you take the one fantastic element – they’re intelligent apes – and you let that be the one fantastical element. We went out to the woods, to use the natural light there, to keep it real. I want the reaction to be ‘Oh yeah, and they’re apes!’ You have the cover of the genre to protect you.”
“I did not jump too far from the events of Rise,” Reeves adds. “What was exciting for me was watching the apes learn how to speak. Three or four words in the first movie, here they are somewhere on the way to the '68 movie, where they are fully conversational.”
Serkis had something to say on the speaking front too. “[The apes] communicate through the American sign language that allows for a universal sign language with the rest of the apes. There’s some gestures and vocal speaking. Then there are the young apes learning to speak better and faster than their parents.”
“Caesar is under a lot of pressure. He leads a 2000-strong group. He’s not an absolute leader. He’s also a father – he has a teenage son, a wife, a council, a very big community that he’s responsible for.”
And can we expect any references to previous Apes movies, they way there were nods in Rise?
“Yes,” says Reeves. “But it’s not going to be done in a winking way. There are commandments that echo the previous movies, but our references are more about creating a context for the world that Andy leads.”
Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes is out July 18, 2014.