War for the Planet of the Apes Will Go Beyond Caesars Crew

first_imgStay on target The official trailer for the third installment of the Planet of the Apes reboot/prequel series has been released. War for the Planet of the Apes is, as you might guess, a war movie. At a press event, director Matt Reeves likened the story to Apocalypse Now. Only with apes. It takes place two years after the events of the last movie, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. War has broken out, and a particularly cruel human Colonel tests the limits of Caesar’s empathy for humans. Reeves says the war pushes Caesar into a more extreme place, making him more like Koba, the antagonist from the last movie.One of the most interesting things we learned from Reeves was that much of the movie’s setting came out of a desire to see how much punishment the motion capture equipment could take. In the first movie, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, they filmed primarily on a stage. In Dawn, they took the actors and the equipment into the woods and found out that it all held up pretty well in the rain. For this movie, Reeves decided he wanted snow.The Colonel, played by Woody Harrelson, makes things bad enough for the apes that Caesar (along with two companions) make a journey north to confront him. They travel into the Sierra mountains, “and it’s snowing,” Reeves said. “And we go into all new locales… we took the equipment and pushed it to its limits. It was freezing.”Reeves said that as the film goes on, the characters learn that the intelligent ape world is much larger than they suspected. One of the highlights of the event was the introduction of a new character named Bad Ape. Played by Steve Zahn, Bad Ape is a chimpanzee who used to live in a zoo. As he got smarter, he slowly learned to speak English. The humans called him Bad Ape so much that he thinks it’s his name. The fact that there are other intelligent apes out there unrelated to Caesar’s group is a major part of the movie’s premise.Fox New Year Presentation – War for the Planet of the Apes -Pictured: Dave Karger, Matt Reeves, Steve Zahn -Photo by Patrick Lewis/Starpix -Loctaion: Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln CenterThis was the first time Zahn ever had to put on a MoCap suit. We even saw a glimpse of his raw performance as the footage shown to the press wasn’t quite done yet. (Some of the scenes still had the bare ape models running around, without any fur or other textures added yet. Other scenes had no apes at all yet, just the actors walking around in gray body suits with dots on their faces.) It was a great reminder that there is really no difference between mo-cap acting and on-camera acting. Reeves even said he gets annoyed when people say Andy Serkis (who plays Caesar) is a great MoCap actor. “He’s not a great MoCap actor. He’s a great actor.”Zahn, as it turns out, is also a great actor. He joined Reeves onstage to talk about the experience. Even though Bad Ape comes off as a comic relief role, Zahn got the role for a very non-comedic performance. They told a story about how Zahn had to audition over Skype because he was finishing up another project in Puerto Rico. Zahn describes auditioning to a laptop as one of the weirder experiences of his life. Even through the weirdness, he gave one hell of a performance. Enough to cement in Reeves’s mind that he was Bad Ape.“There’s a scene where he’s talking to Caesar… and you find out about his past,” Reeves said. “And as he’s talking about it, and you actually only find out about his past through what you (Zahn) do, which is the way you express yourself. And I, over Skype, was crying. I was like, “Oh my God. We just found Bad Ape.”Still from War for the Planet of the Apes. Via FOX.Zahn said he was surprised by how familiar the challenges of MoCap acting were. “I thought the things that were gonna obstruct the way I worked were technical things,” he said. “That I was going to have to adapt the way I worked… to this big MoCap, whatever that means, world. And what I realized, and it was frightening, was that the challenges were the same challenges I had doing experimental theater in Boston. It was working from here (he pointed to his heart), it had nothing to do with the technical. And it scared me.” Of all the films and TV series Zahn’s been a part of, this is the closest he’s felt to doing live theater.We didn’t see a lot of War for the Planet of the Apes, but so far, it looks like a fine follow-up. The new series has been great so far, and an Apocalypse Now-style war movie feels like a natural next step for the story. If this keeps up the quality level of the last two movies, we may even forget that awful Tim Burton remake even existed. 8 Nostalgic Board Games Based on Old Sci-Fi FlicksPlanet of the Apes: Visionaries is Unpredictable, Stunning and Wild last_img read more