This is about as good a choice as anyone could have hoped for, and I am completely and utterly excited about “Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes” now.
Matt Reeves is one of those filmmakers who is going to have a long and interesting career, a smart guy who makes smart choices, and signing on to replace Rupert Wyatt for the second film in the newly-rebooted “Apes” franchise is a very smart choice. The first film was plagued by bad buzz pretty much all the way up to the moment it was actually released, and then it turned out to be so much smarter and more interesting than expected. Andy Serkis is already set to return to star again as Caesar, the ape whose evolution kicked off an uprising at the end of the first film, and the script for the sequel was written by Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, who co-wrote the first one, with newer revisions being handled by the uber-smart Scott Burns, whose work with Soderbergh has been so compelling so far.
Adding Reeves to the mix means Fox is aiming high with the film, hoping to produce another smart and adult take on the property. I love the choice, and I think what Reeves brings to the table is a focus on character and atmosphere, two things that will be essential for the film. It sounds like the big-screen version of “The Twilight Zone” that he was developing at Warner Bros. isn’t happening now, or at least it’s not happening with him, so this is a great alternative, both for him and for Fox, who is lucky to have him.
Right now, we’re facing the beginning of a new era at Fox, and the way they make choices in the coming months is going to start defining what a post-Rothman Fox looks like. When they recently hired Mark Millar to start consulting on all of their Marvel movies, I think that was a step in the right direction, finally having someone who lives and breathes comics to help them decide how to bring “Fantastic Four” and the future “X-Men” movies a new voice. Reeves is one of those directors who has been making solid, smart movies so far but who still hasn’t had that one thing that pushed him permanently over the top. An “Apes” sequel that builds from the ending of “Rise” could be that film for him, and I’m dying to know what they’re going to do in the sequel. Are we going to see the beginnings of an independent ape culture, somehow struggling to exist separate from the world of man? Will we see more revolution? The first film set up some potent possibilities, and Reeves seems to me to be exactly the right guy to take advantage of that.
“Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes” is set to hit theaters May 23, 2014.