Select fans and members of the press were treated with exclusive War for the Planet of the Apes footage at the NYCC this evening, and we’re going to breakdown the seven minute clip for you guys here. First, I must note that the footage we saw was in the very early stages of editing, and only a couple seconds looked to be finished.
Before the clip played, director Matt Reeves gave context to the footage: the film takes place 2 years after the original, Caesar is devastated by the ape casualties of war. His anger from the war makes him want to kill the human colonel, played by Woody Harrelson. Maurice and the other apes can’t let such an angry Caesar go by himself with the likelihood of him getting killed, so they choose to go with him. One of the apes has just learned of a town holding a military encampment, so the apes go to destroy it.
The clip opens with Caesar, Maurice, and two other apes on horseback and armed with assault rifles arriving in a seemingly uninhabited town on the ocean. It is looking like the intel was wrong. The apes all get off of their horses, Caesar signs “No one here, search,” and the other 3 apes split off from Caesar. A farmer holding a pile of wood appears in front of Maurice and the other two apes, they stare down for a moment then the man reaches for his gun. He is instantly shot down by Caesar, who appears from one of the houses. He clearly looks angry, and the other apes appear to be worried for him as he may be consumed by rage. The shooting doesn’t appear to attract any more humans, there is clearly no army here. They enter the house the farmer came out of and find a young girl sleeping. “Look around and take what you can,” says Caesar. Maurice finds a doll on the ground, and wakes up the girl to show it to her. The girl takes it but appears to be having trouble speaking. We see the other apes and Caesar have found dog tags in the house, and Maurice comes up to them. “We need to go,” says Caesar. Maurice then signs “I don’t think the girl can speak.” Caesar seems to ignore this, and they all go outside to their horses. The girl follows them however, and finds her dad dead on the ground. Caesar signs “We can’t take her,” Maurice responds in sign “I understand.” The next shot is them riding the horses on a beach, on the back of one of the horses, behind the ape, is the girl–looks like they were able to take her after all.
While the clip we saw was an emotional character moment, it was extremely well done. Even with missing effects, some shots still had the mocap actors present, the scene was still conveyed perfectly. Reeves ensures that while we saw a character moment, much of the movie is a brutal war film. Character moments like this one, show Caesar still has some compassion left in him and are very central to his struggle during the film.
War for the Planet of the Apes will release in July of 2017.