If you haven’t seen Matt Reeves’ Dawn of the Planet of the Apes yet, we’re ape-palled at you, but know that there are SPOILERS ahead.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, for the most part, is one of the most beautiful blockbusters to hit the screen in a while, and delivers a simple but poignant story of a sympathetic ape whose best intentions are only as good as those of the apes around him. (Plus some human stuff.) Its ending is bittersweet and kind of an emotional downer, but it’s blissfully far away from the smash-cut teaser endings that most franchise movies choose to go with. And so it’s no surprise that a completely different ending was planned.
Speaking with Collider, director Matt Reeves shared many interesting tidbits about the film’s production and eventual future on Blu-ray and DVD, but the biggest head-turner was when he spoke of an unrealized but fully fleshed-out ending that “went one step further.” Reeves said he realized “late in the game” that he didn’t want the ending to feel cornered, and wanted to let the story end on a more open note.
That probably means the military forces that Gary Oldman’s Dreyfus called in would have arrived, and it would have been just like every movie that features creatures challenging humanity’s stronghold on the world. If you’ll recall, the final trailer featured a large ship heading into San Francisco just as Dreyfus actually says the word “military,” but that shot wasn’t in the final movie. Reeves says that the effects for the ending were not completed, so maybe this shot is unrelated, but nothing is certain where post-apocalyptic military is concerned.
I wonder if this was why the film’s climax, involving Dreyfus trying to blow up the tower and killing barely any apes in the process, felt so shoddy to me. (I complain about it a little in our Discussion Continues feature.) Maybe that stuff was all cobbled together after the fact, since the constantly panicking Dreyfus would have presumably just waited until the military came and saved the day, rather than taking things into his own hammy hands. Will we ever know?
According to Reeves, there is a really good chance Dawn of the Planet of the Apes will get an extended cut on Blu-ray and DVD, with around eight minutes of extra scenes to be added in. Reeves cut the film together largely before all of the performance-captured actors were digitally transformed into apes, but he says the deleted scenes were all quality and fed into the story, and composer Michael Giacchino already wrote and recorded the music for them, so their inclusion shouldn’t feel like a cash grab when it happens.
Maybe we’ll get to hear more about that original ending in the commentary. How did you guys like Dawn of the Planet of the Apes? Should they have brought in the big guns, or was having Casear and Malcolm amiably take to their respective corners a successful enough ending for you?