After some viral teasing and action-packed TV spots, mankind now has the first full look at what could be the hairiest thriller of the summer, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. (I guess simian-kind also has their first look at the film, assuming they’re as capable of using digital equipment as Caesar is.) With this sequel, director Matt Reeves has opened up the somewhat insular world of Rupert Wyatt’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and he has filled the world with tension, survivalists, and apes on horseback. It could possibly get better, but it won’t. Not today.
Perhaps mirroring the full film’s pacing, the trailer begins with a close look at Andy Serkis’ motion-captured Caesar — who looks more realistic than Gary Oldman does — and the rest of the growing ape population who are creating a civilization for themselves off the coast of San Francisco. As seen in earlier promos, they’ve made huts, they’ve figured out fire, and things are going pretty swell, considering a simian flu has destroyed most of the world’s population. (A virus that we learn was created by scientists!) But their plans for a promising future come to a screeching, pleading halt once a few human survivors are found walking around Caesar’s homeland, guns in tow.
But the degradation doesn’t happen immediately. At first, it looks like the humans — including Jason Clarke, Keri Russell, Kodi Smit-McPhee, and Kevin Rankin — are going to surrender themselves to the apes’ lifestyle, in an effort to rebuild the bridges that have broken down in the decade since the first film. But Oldman’s scientist Dreyfus doesn’t want to hear any of that, and suspects a violent rift will grow between the two species. And you know how it goes when mentally unstable people have access to massive firepower. “No, don’t shoot!” POW!
Now the risks get a tiny bit more heightened. As far as I could tell from its promotional trailer, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes isn’t actually about the war between man and ape, since that’ll probably form the bulk of the third film’s story. This is the rare action movie that is based upon behavior and consequence more than gunplay and explosions, shining a light on morals in a way that only futuristic dystopian science fiction can do. With itty bitty monkeys.
But even if the film doesn’t conclude with city-wide battles, it doesn’t need to. For me, seeing Caesar’s crew running amok throughout San Francisco is far more frightening than actually watching the characters get into fist fights. The image below does a great job of making me both excited and half-queasy. I’m not saying I couldn’t accept living in a world where sentient apes were a large part of the community — so don’t go telling any apes that I was — but there’s something so disturbing about having it stand upon the American flag, once a symbol of hope and independence. Of course, politicians have rubbed their dirty feet all over the flag for years, but it’s different once the leaders have all perished.
I was disturbed in a different way by the inclusion of two scenes where characters get choked up watching old videos on electronic devices. Where are they charging these things? Is it all James Franco’s fault? Check out a frame of his mini-cameo below.
Smartphones aside, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is still one of GFR’s most anticipated movies of the summer, and this trailer proves that a movie doesn’t have to be completely devoid of maturity in order to qualify as tentpole material. Swing into theaters to revel in the madness on July 11.