Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

We all know where first Rise, and now Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, are going. To a planet totally inhabited and ruled by hyper-intelligent apes who speak fluent English and have never seen a human. In Matt Reeves‘ upcoming Fox release, an important new wrinkle is added to that possibility. Was there ever a time humans and apes might have tried to co-exist? The answer is “Yes” but, of course, it didn’t quite work out.

Star Andy Serkis¬†recently screened five scenes, about 20 minutes total, from the July 11 sequel to a group of press. The scenes contained very little action, instead focusing on relations between the two species and the rising tension among members of both sides to distrust the other. They set up a film surprisingly emotional and complex for a typical summer blockbuster. A film whose themes, according to Serkis, are “family, tribalism, empathy and prejudice.” Below read about, and watch a video blog reaction to, five brand new Dawn of the Planet of the Apes clips.

First up, here’s the video blog. It stays relatively spoiler free as full descriptions are below.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Clips Video Blog

Now, here’s a brief breakdown of the five scenes screen. There are definitely some minor spoilers here so read with caution.

1. As you likely know, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes takes place 10 years after Rise of the Planet of the Apes. In that time, the Apes have migrated into the woods and begun to build their own society. They’ve build homes, government and a way of life that’s under the assumption the humans are all gone. In the first scene, we see two apes spearing some fish. They’re talking with subtitles and on their walk home they run into the first human they’ve seen in a long time. Both parties are frightened and uneasy, but then the human pulls out a gun. The apes are more confused and as they begin to scream he shoots.

The noise alerts the rest of the apes back at their home, which looks like almost a giant bird nest, and they run to the scene. By this time, the human companions – basically the whole cast of the movie – are there. There’s tension as the apes stare down the humans who say they don’t mean any harm. Caesar then screams “Gooooo!” and they do, but not before Caesar sends a scout to follow.

2. Scene two shows the ape council, Caesar among them, talking about what to do. The first 15-2o minutes of this movie are all of the Ape world so we’re familiar with their different speech patterns and rudimentary English. Caesar is proud they’ve built a “Home, family, future” and doesn’t want to go to war. He knows war will put that future in danger but other apes distrust the humans. Koba, one of the apes from the first movie, approaches Caesar after the meeting and tells him (in subtitles), he knows war is a risk and they can lose everything, but they must show their strength. Caesar says he knows and they will.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

3. The third scene shows the human side of things. Unlike the apes who’ve thrived since the virus spread, the humans have struggled with few resources and the loss of their friends and family. Humans blame the apes on the virus, which was named “the simian flu,” so when the party of humans returns to San Francisco to report their sighting, things are not good. Then, a group of hundreds, many thousands, of apes shows up at their door step (seen above). Gary Oldman’s character, the leader, jokes the group is much bigger than the 80 reported. They’re everywhere. On the buildings, roofs, all over the street, and all in war paint. The apes return a bag that was dropped back in scene one, a peace offering, and Caeser delivers a message: “Apes don’t want war but will fight if we must.” He says this is the human home, out there is the ape home and “Don’t come back.”

4. Later in the film, it seems as if the apes and humans have begun to co-exist a bit, and Caesar agrees to help them with a mission in the woods. The fourth scene screened showed Caesar’s little baby running up on Keri Russell’s character in a very playful way. The character treats the baby very kindly and warmly, but one of her companions questions that, as does a nervous Caesar.

5. In the fifth scene shown, Maurice, the huge ape from the first film, visits the humans camping in the woods and Kodi Smith-McPhee’s character gives him a book. The two flip through and book and the human reads to the ape. It’s almost as if they two species can make it together. That probably won’t be the case though.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes photo

Finally, the evening ended with the same footage that screened later that week at WonderCon in Anaheim, CA. It’s a trailer of sorts, showing many glimpses of the scenes mentioned above and stressing the film is about that potential harmony and eventual conflict. At the end though, there’s one final scene, of two humans standing watch and an ape comes up to them. They’re unsure of the ape’s intentions, but he does a bunch of playful things and they begin to laugh and trust him. He rolls up next to them and asks for a drink of whiskey (seen above). They oblige and he spits it out. They all laugh and things seem great, until the apes rolls towards one man and steals his machine gun. Everyone steps back, hoping maybe it was a mistake, but when the ape unloads the clip into one of the humans, we know it was not. The scene is tense, shocking, and everything we hope Matt Reeves delivers on July 11.

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