war for the planet of the apes

By now, you’ve already seen the first trailer for War for the Planet of the Apes, the next chapter in the prequel saga. But yesterday at a footage presentation in New York, we were treated to a little bit more than that. We got to check out a few lengthy clips from the film, albeit in unfinished form. One was the very first scene of the film, which establishes the ongoing conflict between humans and apes and introduces the human character played by Gabriel Chavarria. And the other introduces a new ape character, played by Steve Zahn. Click through for our detailed War for the Planet of the Apes footage recap. 

20th Century Fox presented three unfinished scenes to us yesterday. One was the sequence we saw back at New York Comic-Con in October; you can read the recap of that one here. But the other two were brand-new. Get the details below and then scroll to the bottom for our general impressions.

war for the planet of the apes

War for the Planet of the Apes Footage Recap: Opening Scene

War for the Planet of the Apes opens about two years into the conflict between humans and apes. The fight has moved from the city into the woods, where the apes have the advantage. We see a group of heavily armed human soldiers in green camo making their way up a woody hill, some of whom have personalized their helmets with slogans like “Monkey Killer” and “Bedtime for Bonzo.”

Surprisingly, the group seems to include a few apes who are working with the humans. One is serving as the lookout, and spots an armed ape in the distance. A human takes a shot at the ape, and the ape falls. Then all hell breaks loose. Gunfire is exchanged. Spears are flying. Big explosions rock the forest. An ape army led by Caesar comes charging in, mounted on horses. The fight is brutal — apes seem to be toppling by the dozens. An ape who is working with the humans watches quietly and takes it all in.

Meanwhile, a young and very scared human soldier (Chavarria) crawls to the body of his fallen captain and grabs the walkie. “I don’t think I’m going to make it. I’m sorry,” he screams. “Just kill as many as you can,” comes the reply from the other end. Then an ape finds the soldier and takes him in.

We cut to the aftermath in an ape settlement. The apes are regrouping and recovering. A line of humans, including the captured young soldier, is on their knees. Caesar walks in and looks them over.

war for the planet of the apes

War for the Planet of the Apes Footage Recap: Bad Ape

The second War for the Planet of the Apes clip seems to come from much later in the movie. At this point in the movie, Caesar and his band — which includes his three ape BFFs (Maurice, Rocket, and Luca) and a young human girl — are out in the snowy mountains searching for information about where the humans are hiding out. The scene opens on the horses. The apes are all somewhere else; the only character we see is the little girl, who is sitting on a horse and playing with a toy. Then, in the foreground, a mysterious figure in a parka slips in and starts rummaging through the horse’s packs.

The girl doesn’t notice, but it’s a matter of time before one of the apes — who had been up on a radio tower on lookout — does. The ape yells, and the mysterious figure steals one of the horses and speeds away. A chase scene ensues through the snow, with Caesar and the others in pursuit of the thief.

Eventually the apes find themselves in front of a destroyed, abandoned facility. The stolen horse appears, but no one’s on it anymore. The apes decide to investigate, and go into the building with their guns drawn. They find a shadowy doorway and suspect someone’s hiding in their. They approach… and then someone in the darkness tosses a gun at them. Then another gun. Then that someone crawls out.

It’s the mysterious figure in the parka… and it turns out he’s an ape. Specifically, a chimpanzee played by Steve Zahn. He doesn’t seem to understand sign language, but he can talk. He refers to himself as “Bad Ape.” He notices the girl hiding off in a corner with Maurice and takes off his parka, indicating that the apes should give it to her. It seems to be a sort of piece offering.

A little while later, all the apes and the girl are gathered around a campfire inside the building. Bad Ape explains himself. “I see girl, I think you human,” he says, “but you ape, like me.” He says he’s been living there by himself for “long long time,” and that he came from a zoo. Caesar asks if there are others like him. “All dead,” he says. Bad Ape, who seems thrilled to have company, calls this a “special day” and brings out some food rations to share.

Caesar notices the food rations seem to come from a human military facility, and starts asking Bad Ape where he got them. It seems Bad Ape knows of a military camp in the area, and Caesar demands that Bad Ape take him there. But Bad Ape resists, saying he doesn’t want to go back. When Caesar continues to insist, Bad Ape points out that the weather outside is too snowy and cold, and suggests the apes stay with him a while.

War for the Planet of the Apes

War for the Planet of the Apes Footage Reaction

The opening scene underscores just how dire the situation is for Caesar and his apes. The war’s been dragging on a while, and apes seem to be dying by the dozens. It seems like little wonder that War for the Planet of the Apes will push Caesar’s empathy to its very limit. I’m also curious to see what happens with the human soldier they captured, and what will come of the apes who seem to be working with the humans. The humans don’t particularly seem to respect or like them, but they seem to get along.

As for Bad Ape, he adds an intriguing new energy to the film’s mix of characters. He feels a bit like comic relief — there’s a bit where he crashes into some stuff and yells, “I’m okay!” — but his interactions with the apes suggest he’s got some tragedy in his past… and maybe some ulterior motives. Bad Ape is also interesting because he expands the ape population beyond just Caesar’s people. He is not part of Caesar’s community and has therefore experienced the past few years very differently than they have.

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