war for the planet of the apes ceasar and woody gun to the head

Earlier this morning, 20th Century Fox released the first trailer for Matt ReevesWar for the Planet of the Apes. Let’s take a look at the trailer frame by frame and hopefully add some insight from our visit to the set. Hit the jump for the War for the Planet of the Apes trailer breakdown.

War for the Planet of the Apes beach

The trailer begins with a beautiful vista shot of apes on horseback riding on the edge of a beach. The filmmakers and producers have described the third Apes film as an epic western with Ceasar taking the Clint Eastwood role.

War for the Planet of the Apes beach ceasar on horseback

Ceasar doesn’t look too happy, peering over at his fellow apes, gun strapped to his back. Star Andy Serkis explains what has brought Ceasar here:

Caesar at this point of his journey, if you remember where we left off at the last story, the apes had become divided under the leadership of Koba and he was carrying an enormous amount of guilt going against one of the primary tenets of their belief, which is that you shall not kill apes. He’s killed the person who was his core [collaborator]. So two years have passed and the ALZ drug has continued to enable Caesar to develop. He’s there now living in a situation where both apes and humans are at war and there’s a sense that this is the crux, this is the climactic moment where both species are under huge threat and it’s pretty apocalyptic. So they’ve weathered… both sides are worn out. Caesar’s side had to leave the encampment in the woods and lead them up higher in the hills and set up a temporary base. You’ll remember Caesar as a character — one of his main characteristics, having been brought up with human beings, was to be empathetic to both sides but an event happens at the beginning of this movie that sets him off on a track that almost eats him up and he does set off on a revenge mission after this event happens without giving too much away. Through this story he goes through this incredible journey very much going to the dark heart of himself, probably the darkest he’s ever encountered. T

The humans believe that if they can kill Caesar, the apes head would be “cut off” and they can win this war. Caesar believes if he can kill Woody Harrelson’s character The Colonel, they can win this war and let the apes start anew. But it doesn’t work out that way.

War for the Planet of the Apes beach maurice on horseback with girl

What is Ceasar angry about? Producer Dylan Clark explains:

Caesar goes on a journey at the end of the first act because he doesn’t believe he’s fit to lead. Apes have found where they think they can live without human fighting. A promised land, so to speak. A place where they can start over. A safer, more beautiful land they can inhabit. And he goes on a dark quest. … Caesar and his group pick up a blonde girl, a little girl — along the way and there’s a great scene, they’re going to leave her and she’s young and not able to take care of herself and Caesar says we’re not taking her and Maurice says to Caesar — I understand but I’m not leaving her. And you love Maurice. And the next cut is the little girl on the back of a horse, holding onto a big orangutan, looking at Caesar.

War for the Planet of the Apes beach

This time around the movie was shot on 65mm film, with the producers citing filmmakers like David Lean for their aspirations with this journey.

War for the Planet of the Apes human jungle

This story takes place two years after the events of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, which ended with his human best friend Jason Clarke informing him that the humans made contact with another faction up north and a significant military threat is coming. Producer Dylan Clark explains the opening of this film:

So when we start this movie two years later, there’s a serious thing going on. They’re fighting armed forces — guys in military fatigue and assault rifles and weaponry. This isn’t a ragtag group of militia.

War for the Planet of the Apes human jungle

Here we see some of that opening confrontation, with the military attacking the Ape fort.

War for the planet of the apes human capture

Some of the human soldiers are captured by the Apes. Producer Dylan Clark believes that “we have the best opening of all of the [ape] movies.”

war for the planet of the apes ceasar fort

Again, producer Dylan Clark explains that this war is something Ceasar is trying to come to grips with:

Caesar’s had to have this horrible war against the humans — a war he didn’t start. Koba started this thing. He just feels responsible for it. What happens in this because of ape losses and human losses and just chaos and pain, Caesar is at some point not fit to lead the apes and goes on a dark journey to end this war.

war for the planet of the apes waterfall hidden fortress

Big films usually employ a secret production name to keep the profile of the production lower. The production name for War for the Planet of the Apes was “Hidden Fortress,” a title used on all the production materials, call sheets and even the clapper used before every shot. Why was it called Hidden Fortress? It is a reference to an important location in the film.

war for the planet of the apes waterfall hidden fortress

Producer Dylan Clark explains:

The humans have been after Caesar for some time. And as I said to you, it was very important digitally for Matt to start you guys out, start the audience out in a world that looks very familiar and then take you into a different world. The Hidden Fortress, because the apes survival depends on it, is through practical tunnels in Othello that we shot beautiful, beautiful, and then we CGI’d this waterfall. And behind that resides this kind of thing. That is a digital set. This is after apes getting killed, this is the stuff that weighs on Caesar. Beautiful, we shot up at Allowen Lake.

war for the planet of the apes ceasar in the hidden fortress

But the fortress is not hidden anymore.


The humans have found the Ape’s hidden fortress and have come to, as Ceasar says, “finish us off.”


The apes takes on the human in the arena of darkness, and the result should be a smart and thrilling action sequence from director Matt Reeves.

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