JoBlo.com Gets a Sneak Preview of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes!

Last Wednesday night a group of journalist gathered together for a sneak preview of one of the most highly anticipated summer flicks of the year. At the Zanuck Theatre on the 20th Century Fox lot we were gathered to witness the coming of a new Dawn… DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES that is! The Matt Reeves directed sequel has gathered a ton of buzz thanks to an impressive trailer and promising footage shown last year at Comic Con. Unfortunately I didn’t see the footage the first time around, yet I can officially say that I’m completely on-board for what looks to be one of the most promising movies of the year.

The evening began with the great Andy Serkis – once again portraying Caesar - who stepped out to greet us and give us a little background on what we were about to see. As a performer who has truly mastered the art of performance capture, he wanted the audience to know exactly how much of this technology came from the actor in front of the camera as well as those behind the scenes. The presentation included a brief look at the actors stepping into the roles of the apes and their on-screen counterparts. While short, this behind-the scenes look proved that the apes expressions and movements were perfectly matched to the actors performances. It was absolutely astounding.

And before I go any further, I will give warning that there will be spoilers included here. So if you’d like to know nothing about the film I suggest you skip the rest of the article and wait to witness it yourself.

Okay, once again, SPOILERS BELOW.

DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES takes place about ten years after where RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES finished off. The Simian Flu has wiped out most of humanity and yes, the apes are beginning to take over. Caesar has started his own empire and by doing so has garnered the respect of his brethren. However, he is about to come face to face with a few remaining survivors and you know damn well when the humans show up there is going to be some serious conflict coming up.

The first clip of the evening was the first interaction between human and ape. While out in the woods, two of the apes come across the character of Carver (a non-ape played by Kirk Acevedo). The terrified Carver reaches for his gun and shoots one of the apes. Soon, Malcolm (Jason Clarke) shows up along with a small group of men unsure what to make of the situation. Things get far more troubling when they are shockingly outnumbered by a massive amount of apes, including Caesar. Malcolm, clearly realizing they don’t have a shot in hell to survive in case of an attack orders his crew to disband their weapons at the request of the apes. The mighty Caesar tells them to “GO” in a very convincing way and so yes, they run like hell.

As powerful and visually impressive as the first clip is, we continue to see the imposing Caesar as a leader in the second clip. During a meeting, the apes are debating what they should do when it comes to the newfound troubles. The counsel challenges him to go after the humans, yet Caesar is insistent that they should not approach the strangers aggressively. This short clip was far more impressive after witnessing the performance capture footage. With both the actors as well as the creative effects team, this simple moment was extremely compelling. That Andy Serkis is going to be great in this flick – much like he was the last time around.

In the third clip we are introduced to Gary Oldman as Dreyfus, a man who apparently had his life torn apart by the Simian Flu which took away his family. He puts the blame on the apes themselves, even though the side effects are more than obvious the responsibility of the men who created this hyper intelligent species. This sequence features the human side of this struggle as Dreyfus feels they must act quickly to fight off the apes, arguing with the Malcolm who has already seen their vast numbers. Their conversation is quickly interrupted by Caesar and company when they march in with a warning… “Do not come back!” he demands with the hope of not starting a war. This is an epic scene with a clear sense of what is to come.

Thankfully, director Reeves exemplifies the more personal aspects of the film with the final two clips that we were shown. Both deal with one side’s reaction to the children of their adversaries. The infant ape that crawls up and makes friends with Clark’s wife and son (the perfectly cast Keri Russell and Kodi Smit-McPhee) is extremely touching without being overtly sappy. The other features Malcolm and Ellie watching Smit-McPhee read about partying to one of the apes. This presents the idea of youth ability to look past the hostility between two factions, both moving beyond the hate and connecting in a surprisingly heartfelt way.

To finish off the evening we were presented with one more trailer, some of which had been featured in the clips before. It did hint of course to a bigger and more intense conflict that will surely result in huge action set pieces. Now if DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES can satisfyingly pull off this balance of humanity and blockbuster action as I suspect it can, it will be one hell of a feat.

Before all was said and done, we were shown one more clip, a bit of an Easter egg. I’m hesitant to reveal much of this as it was a cheer worthy moment finishing things off perfectly. At first it is a comedic little bit, that turns into a scary situation for a couple of foolish men. The scene is a nice mix of humor and intensity that really gives you a sense of just how freaking dumb a couple of alcohol induced dudes with guns can be around a super smart ape. Again, this little scene was a perfect way to turn up my excitement for what is yet to come with the film’s release on July 11th.

The footage we were shown was not in 3D and some of the effects shots had not been complete. And of course, there have been many a time where you see twenty minutes of a movie only to be frustratingly disappointed by the end result. Yet everything I saw this evening only stirred up my excitement even more than I had originally anticipated. It would have been nice to see a little more action possibly but from the looks of it, Reeves has a clear grasp of how to continue this story the right way. Hopefully when Caesar and Malcolm presumably must face off against each other – or work together – we will be in for one hell of a fantastic summer movie.

Source: JoBlo.com



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