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article image‘War for the Planet of the Apes’: the height of Caesar’s journey Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Oct 14, 2016 in Entertainment
‘War for the Planet of the Apes’ is the apex of years of mistreatment and misunderstanding, and fans at NYCC 2016 got a sneak peek at what the climax will look like.
One of the great things about big conventions is studios reward people’s fandom with free swag and sneak peeks of their latest projects. Every day there is a panel with directors and cast of a certain TV show or movie in which they answer questions, drop hints about what’s to come and, most coveted, share exclusive clips that may never be seen again outside of that room. At New York Comic Con, lucky fans were provided a first look of next year’s War for the Planet of the Apes.
“You must know before this begins that I’m sorry.” – Caesar
As the powerful close-up of the ape leader’s sorrowful expression faded from the screen, director Matt Reeves, producer Dylan Clark and the man who plays Caesar, Andy Serkis, took the stage for a guided discussion about the production. Confirming this film depicts the war that would eventually lead to the world portrayed in Planet of the Apes, the filmmakers selected to focus particularly on Caesar’s journey through the three pictures. The latest installment, which started production only four months after Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, will depict Caesar’s ultimate disenchantment with humans as still unknown events force him to grasp the resentment held by his brethren. He is haunted by the murder of his brother, Koba, and must find a way to understand the hate that consumed him. It’s going to be a darker and more nuanced film, according to Serkis who also said this is “the most intense and draining part of Caesar’s arc.”
Two years into the war, the simians are holding their ground in the jungle and the humans have lost hope of an easy victory. Woody Harrelson plays the opposing colonel, although his participation required some additional reassurances as he was hesitant to have to perform opposite a tennis ball for most of the film. “It’s directly engaging with another actor’s eyes,” said Serkis in response to Harrelson’s reluctance. But as seen in one of the exclusive clips comprised of a combination of raw images, first round rendering and final footage, Serkis is on stage playing opposite his co-star in a confrontation between the two leaders. And as viewers have seen, this method goes a long way in generating the intensity and drama of these films, as well as connecting characters to the audience.
One of the most impressive elements of this franchise’s reboot has been Reeves’ desire “to push the boundaries” of motion capture technology, which is utilized to permit real actors to portray the non-human characters. In this way, the computer-generated apes are imbued with the emotions and facial expressions of the actors that play them. “Caesar’s amazing because he’s amazing,” said Reeves referring to Serkis’ performance, which they also believe is worthy of an Oscar nomination in spite of never seeing his face on the screen. As this series has made great advancements in this technology, they presented a seven-minute clip of behind-the-scenes footage that broke-down the process and elaborated on the advantages of motion capture. It’s easy to forget when watching the final product all the work that goes into creating the projected picture, but this video was a fascinating reminder of how going to the movies still involves a touch of magic.
Studios have struggled with these special events due to the almost inevitable online leaks that follow, so security was strict at the Regal Ewalk theatre in Manhattan. Cell phones were strictly prohibited upon entering the theatre and throughout the presentation, allowing only for a few photos at the end. But for the lucky few in attendance, it was well worth it.
The hour-long event culminated with the teaser trailer, which was a brief but very powerful look at things to come. “I don’t know if you can tell — we’re kind of excited,” concluded Reeves. The film opens July 14, 2017.
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