Yesterday I was fortunate enough to attend a sneak preview of scenes from the upcoming Dawn of the Planet of the Apes at the Soho Hotel. Not only was it exciting to get an exclusive look at such a hotly anticipated release but the scenes were introduced by the great motion capture performance pioneer, Andy Serkis, known not only for playing chimpanzee, Caesar in Rise of the Planet of the Apes but also King Kong and Gollum in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit sagas. I only fangirled a little… I promise.
The story picks up 10 years after Rise, where Caesar is now the leader of a established society of apes living in the Muir Woods Forest as well as being a husband and a father. Small groups of humans have survived the devastating virus that ran rampant a decade earlier but are facing extinction largely because they will soon lose their source of power. When a group of human explorers hoping to reignite a hydroelectric dam in the forest cross paths with the apes Caeser is forced to decide between attempting to come to a peaceful resolution or an all out war to establish ape dominance. At the same time some remaining humans blame apes for the virus and are less than keen to coexist.
Serkis explained that director, Matt Reeves, chose a setting in the near future rather than decades ahead because he wanted to enable the audience to enjoy watching the evolution of the apes as well as Casear’s integration of some of the things he learned growing up with humans before the inevitable rejoining of the timeline with the originals and the future we all know is coming. He was also clear that he wanted to show both the humans’ and the apes’ side of the story exposing the strengths and weaknesses of both without the audience being given a “side” to root for. This vision came to life by presenting the story through the eyes of the journey of both a human and an ape family.
I was a big fan of Rise of the Planet of the Apes so I was particularly interested to see how the motion capture animation had come along since the last film and from the scenes we got to see I can’t say I was disappointed. The animation is lush and true to life creating a fully immersive experience, which I think will be added to by the fact that Dawn of the Planet of the Apes will be released in 3D. The realness of the visuals is also enhanced by the fact that every ape is played by an actor who has been motion captured and almost the entire film was shot on location in Vancouver and New Orleans.
Roll on 17 July because I can’t wait!