US Release Date: 7/11/14
The apes have inherited earth. At least, that’s the way it looks in Dawn of The Planet of The Apes – the sequel to 2011’s Rise of The Planet of The Apes.
For those needing a quick refresher, Rise, which grossed up $500 million worldwide, ended with the apes breaking free of their human captors and heading for the forests. The movie climaxed just as a deadly virus, which had escaped from a lab, hit the entire world.
In the meantime, Ceasar (Andy Sirkis) led his newly liberated fellow apes to sanctuary in the forests outside San Francisco.
And that’s where they remained and prospered while the rest of the world went to hell in a hand-basket. Dawn, directed by Cloverfield helmer Matt Reeves, picks up the story ten years later. The virus, known the Simian Flu, has wiped out ninety-five per cent of the world’s human population – civilization has disintegrated.
Ceasar (once again played by Sirkis) is still the leader. He also has a family, comprising of his wife Cornelia (Judy Greer), a rebellious son named Blue Eyes (Nick Thurston) and a newborn baby chimp.
“Caesar is a father now: he’s got a mate, a son and a baby,” the actor notes. “He is responsible for the survival of a community. On the other hand, he has empathy for humans, and still, deep down, he feels a need to be able to communicate with them.”
Since the apocalypse, a very uneasy peace has existed between apes and humans, but a series of unfortunate events dump that peace at death’s door.
“It’s an ape world,” says Reeves. “We explore whether apes and humans can figure out a way to live together without violence.”
Among the small band of not-so-merry humans, struggling to come back from the devastation is Malcolm (Jason Clarke), a former architect who lost his wife to the virus. Aside from raising his teenage son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) in a decimated world, he also serves as Caesar’s main contact within the minute human population.
“Malcolm is sort of a mirror to Caesar, trying to rebuild his community in the ruins of a world that is gone forever,” says Reeves. “There’s a lot of mistrust and throwing of blame on both sides,” adds Clarke. “From the point of view of the humans, there’s a lot of anger about how mankind has suffered because of the virus. The humans wrongly blame the apes for causing the virus, though humans actually created the virus in a lab a decade earlier.”
Malcolm also shares a romantic thingie with Ellie (Kerri Russel) – a former nurse with the Center for Disease Control. Russell, best known to fans as the title character in TV’s long cancelled Felicity, says Ellie’s strength and tenacity allows her to survive in this new world.
“It’s a tough place that’s always on that verge of panic as everyone starts to realize that this little society they’ve built is coming close to bursting at the seams. She’s a strong woman and that’s just what Malcolm needs.”
As in Rise, scenes involving Simians, especially Serkis’ portrayal of Ceasar, were all utilised the extensive use of Motion Capture – a technique which allows actors’ movements to be digitally recorded before being translated onto computer generated images. However, unlike that pic, which heavily relied on interior sets, this chapter required a community of 2000 apes to be shot in their natural environs, specifically humid rain forests.
“Everything around us, and everywhere we shot provided challenges for the performance capture,” Serkis continues. “No one has ever attempted that combination of shooting native 3D in a practical location, at least not to this extent. What was really exciting was to take the aesthetic of photorealistic apes and then put these characters in naturalistic situations’”
Visual effects company WETA Digital, which also worked on Rise, handled the motion capture sequences. All scenes involving apes required about 50 motion capture cameras to be constantly rolling.
“Being able to record the performance capture on location and working with all the other actors means you have a more coherent performance,” says Joe Letteri, senior visual effects supervisor. “Everyone is in the moment together. And that’s really what we were trying to do with the new technology we developed.”
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Director: Matt Reeves
Stars: Andy Serkis, Kerri Russell, Jason Clarke, Toby Kebbell and Kodi Smit McPhee
Screenwriters: Mark Bomback, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver
Producers: Rick Jaffa, Mark Bomback, Amanda Silver, Peter Chernin, Dylan Clark,
Executive Producer: Thomas M. Hammell
Image Info: Andy Serkis as Ceasar in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Copyright 2014 20th Century Fox. All Rights Reserved.
Source: Sony Pictures’ Press Notes