For a movie called Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, there is a woeful lack of any actual apes in director Matt Reeves’ sequel to the 2011 prequel to the classic Charlton Heston-starring franchise. Though Hollywood has a long, illustrious history with simian starring movies—Clint Eastwood is in two—this outing is going for a more artificial, King Kong approach to the not-quite-human members of the cast. Like its predecessor, Dawn will rely primarily on motion capture technology to render the chimps and orangutans and gorillas, and this new video offers you a glimpse at this process.
This footage from EW won’t give you much of an idea about the technical side of things, but the side by side before and after comparison does make you realize just how much of an actor’s performance actually goes into the finished product you see on screen. Watching the actors in skin tight, full body suits, wearing fancy rigs on their heads, faces covered in dots for reference points, really shows you how the filmmakers capture the subtle nuances of the actors. Everything the actors do, from large gestures down to subtle changes of facial expression, gets translated into the digital realm.
With roles like Gollum from Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies under his belt, Andy Serkis is the most recognizable, so to speak, motion capture actor in the business today. He’s even reportedly working with Mark Ruffalo on Joss Whedon’s new Avengers movie. In Dawn Serkis reprises his role as Caesar, the genetically enhanced leader of a nation similarly intelligent apes. Though he is the most well known actor who rarely has his face appear on screen, he’s far from the only one in this movie. This video also gives you a look at Toby Kebbel’s Koba, Larramie Doc Shaw’s Ash, and Maurice, played by Karin Konoval, all doing their thing.
In the decade that follows the events of Rise a nasty virus, one that many wrongly blame on the apes, has torn through the human population, decimating their numbers. When a small band of survivors is looking for a place to settle, they strike an uneasy peace with Caesar and his band. Given what we know of previous human behavior, this isn’t going to last very long. And sure enough, the situation eventually devolves into a man versus monkey free for all that, taking into account our knowledge of the franchise, won’t end well for humanity.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes also stars Jason Clarke, Keri Russell, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Kirk Acevedo, and Gary Oldman, and opens everywhere July 11.