On Thursday, Fox held an event in New York City previewing its upcoming 2017 slate, which includes Logan (we saw 40 minutes of the film), A Cure for Wellness, Alien: Covenant, and War for the Planet of the Apes. Each preview has a separate embargo date and, well, War for the Planet of the Apes drops right now, so let’s talk about it.
As seems to be the case with this new series of Apes films, we are once again surrounded with familiar-looking apes (led by Andy Serkis’ Caesar), but the human cast has changed. Long gone is James Franco from the first film, and gone now, too, are Jason Clarke and Gary Oldman from 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.
Matt Reeves (who directed Dawn) is back as a more and more battle hardened Caesar must now battle a, let’s say, “determined” colonel played by an almost possessed looking Woody Harrelson. As Reeves explained during the footage, Harrelson’s colonel and his troops represent the last survivors of the human military. Also, they represent the best.
The footage (which wasn’t finished, so it would often switch back and forth between the motion capture apes and the actual humans playing them) begins with a human assault on a location in the deep woods where Caesar is believed to be stationed. The “war” in the title is accurate. The negotiations from the previous films seems long gone as human and apes are both now hellbent on destroying each other. Caesar is always quick to point out that he didn’t ask for this war.
In the second scene, we see Caesar no longer hesitant to take a human life he considers a threat. On a horseback expedition, Caesar kills a man living in a remote cabin. Unfortunately this leaves the man’s young daughter an orphan. Fearing for her safety on her own, Maurice refuses to leave without the young girl. Caesar reluctantly agrees.
In the third scene we meet Steve Zahn’s “Bad Ape.” He’s a new character who steals one of the apes’ horses: Caesar assumes at first he’s human (he’s wearing a coat, Zahn’s only scene in the film without CGI), but soon learn he’s a former zoo ape who has taught himself to speak English. This is when Caesar realizes there must be countless different factions of apes around the world he never even realized.
And that’s it. It wasn’t a lot, but if War is anything like Reeves’ Dawn (and the footage gives me no reason to believe it won’t be) we are in for another treat this summer.