The newest installment of the acclaimed Planet of the Apes reboot series will have you reeling with awe, warmth and empathy
Matt Reeves has had a busy career of late being the next J.J. Abrams. Beyond his forays into science fiction, the filmmaker has also had a prolific television career exploring a wide array of genres, from college dramas to intense police procedurals. This mishmash of televisual genres has come to represent Reeves’ recent filmic language, combining many of these semantic aspects together to make excellent, heart-wrenching genre films that have in many ways resurged their popularity–particularly the science fiction film.
Having directed Dawn of the Planet of the Apes a few years ago, Reeves’ upcoming sequel to the runaway hit, War for the Planet of the Apes continues the relatively young director’s vision of incorporating multiple genres into what many would pigeonhole into the science fiction genre. Picking up where the previous film left off, Caesar and his ape colony are “two years into the fight” according to Reeves, who also co-wrote the picture. Having suffered heavy losses, the apes have transitioned from urban warfare to rural, where the apes rule and “know that area like the back of their hands.” Faced with a ruthless and enigmatic human leader, Caesar faces an internal fight between his inherent empathy and his motivation to protect his own kind.
Reeves sat down with star Steve Zahn to discuss the upcoming film, showcasing a few scenes as well as examining the meandering genre of the film, the dedication of the actors, and the growing craft of latest motion capturing effects used in the film.
Acting in a New Age
With the advent and advancement of motion capture technology, filmmakers have been able to with increasing accuracy portray mythological creatures, animals and larger-than-life monsters in films. This has engendered the incorporation of more skillful actors in roles that would normally be manifested by a computer-generated effects engineer.
“What we want you to understand is that these performances are all created by the actors who play them,” proclaimed Reeves. Steve Zahn, who plays Bad Ape in the upcoming film added that motion capture acting made him realize that “it was frightening” and that it had “the same challenges I had doing experimental theater in Boston.”
On Location and On Point: An Authentic Approach
The director explains that while many of the scenes from previous motion capture-heavy Ape film were filmed on a soundstage, this sequel differs in that most of it was shot on location, with complete dedication from the actors.”The way we shot this–we didn’t do it after the fact, like, ‘Hey. Let’s all shoot some movie, and then we’ll hang out for a few weeks and do the ape scenes,'” stated the director.
It seems that motion capturing technology has truly allowed the filmmaker to explore the vision that he had originally envisioned in his mind, commenting that “I wanted it to be as photo-real as possible. I was like, ‘Can we shoot, actually, in the woods? Can we shoot in the rain?’ And Weta proved to me they could. So I was like, ‘Let’s do it in the snow’ and they were like, ‘Okay.'” Zahn realized early on that this film would be unlike any other that he had done, noting that “Because I had to really work, and I had to be good.” “When I look at Bad Ape, I can only see Steve,” noted the director.
From Action to Western and Everything in Between
Matt Reeves eclectic career ensured that he would have a strong understanding not only of sci-fi, which many credit to having grown up with J.J. Abrams, but also of comedy, action and drama. This amalgamation of genres can be most certainly noted in Reeves’ Planet of the Apes films, which will most certainly be more prominent in the newest iteration of the reboot series with the casting of humorous actor Steve Zahn.
Reeves notes that “not only does [Zahn] add a lot of humor, he brings a tremendous amount of heart to the story,” an important aspect to making the dark subject matter of the film a little lighter and easier to digest what is essentially the annihilation of mankind.
The director explained that the beginning of the film starts as a “straight ahead war movie.” The increasingly acclaimed director went on to surmise that “then when Caesar decides he’s going to go on personal vendetta against the Colonel, it becomes almost, for a period, like a Western.”
Check out the film’s trailer below before catching the flick next summer on July 14, 2017: