Director Matt Reeves has big shoes to fill, stepping into the second instalment of a reborn franchise with Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes. He came to Comic-Con to talk through his plans for next year's film and brought his cast for the ride.
"I was obsessed with Planet Of The Apes as a child; I wanted to be an ape," says Reeves. "When I saw Rise, I felt that watching it made me an ape, and that happened because of what Rupert and Andy Serkis and Weta did, which was to connect with what being an ape was, and I wanted to honour that and carry it forward. We wanted to do a Caesar-centric story that started in the world of the apes.
Reeves brought just-finished footage, but of course most of the ape scenes are still to be completed with effects on the performance capture, so this was pretty brief. There were shots of desperate-looking humans, huddled in bombed-out buildings; Jason Clarke leaning despairing against a wall; Gary Oldman kitted for action and looking worried in a way reminiscent of Jim Gordon late in The Dark Knight.
Clarke journeys to a wooden pallisade of sharpened spikes that's clearly the ape border, and calls out that he wants to see Caesar. The next thing we saw was an extreme close-up of Caesar, his face now painted with white and red tribal-looking stripes but his stare determined and resolute. The camera slowly pans out, and we see an ape army hanging in the trees behind him as Caesar raises his hand and slashes it down to move them forward.
Along with Reeves were Jason Clarke, Keri Russell and Andy Serkis to talk about the film.
"One of the big challenges of this movie was to take Caesar forward", says Serkis, "to have him become a leader with responsibility for a society of 2000 apes, to inject some of the humanity he grew up with into that society so it would be a peaceful and egalitarian one. He's ten years older; he's a leader, a mature leader; he has a wife and teenage son. It's really all about the choices and reactions to the arrival of the humans and Caesar's response to that. It's about teaching the apes language as well as sign language. It's very rich and fertile ground for exploring the inner ape and also a lot about humanity."
"There's the great, sexy Andy Serkis leading the way", says Clarke, "and then they've hired Cirque du Soleil guys, parkour guys, so when you see apes you're seeing real athletes do extraordinary things. In the end, we all just want to find our inner ape."
"There are stories about what happened, and stories where you know what happened and the question is 'why?'" says Reeves.
"What's great about the Apes franchise is that it's about us, a way to look at our nature. The movie is really about character and psychology. It's about who these characters are, and how we get from A to Z."
Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes is out next July.