Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Tees Maar Khan

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. There will be a quiz later. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

“Apes on Horses! Apes on Horses!” exclaims a giddy title from Badass Digest‘s Devin Faraci in an article about new Dawn of the Planet of the Apes photos being released into the wild. As he continues in his assessment of these new stills from the Fox marketing team, he calls out the fact that early footage never quite sold this new apes film, but these stills do. Their greatest achievement: a sense of realism not yet seen in any of the numerous attempts to bring the Planet of the Apes world to life. Even as impressive as Rupert Wyatt’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes was in 2011, there was still a bit of an uncanny valley gap with Caesar (played in motion capture by Andy Serkis). The most impressive CGI ape in that movie was the most exotic, an orangutan that didn’t quite get a lot of screentime. Most of the effort went into creating Caesar (and the film’s climactic battle on the Golden Gate bridge), and even he still had a bit of shine. This time though, the wizards of WETA  have absolutely created a photoreal group of apes that have increasingly human characteristics. Such as intricate facial expressions, emotional response and yes, the ability to ride horses and fire guns. It’s even more impressive a feat when you consider how far the craft of visual effects has come since the first Planet of the Apes film was released in 1968. It’s a history I’d like to explore for a moment in photos.

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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The teaser trailer for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is one steady breath before the exhalation of war. It’s a free shot of adrenaline provided by director Matt Reeves, who brings his Cloverfield-sized destruction to the world that Heston wrought. Not only does the CGI look uncomfortably real (can Andy Serkis get an Oscar now, please?), the action looks excellent, and Gary Oldman seems to be bringing his usual enthusiasm to what might be the last chance for humanity. Check out the trailer for yourself:

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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Yesterday at Comic-Con, 20th Century Fox took the stage early in the afternoon with a massive task at hand: do something people will remember, even after they watch the Marvel Studios presentation in the evening. It took the entire casts of 2 X-Men movies and an aggressive army of talking apes, but they may have done it. The reactions were strong, including a number of attendees citing the scope of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and the intricate nature of the apes’ development of communication. The photo above is the first released photo from the film, showing Caesar (played by Andy Serkis) leading his troops. After the jump, director Matt Reeves talks about what drew him to the project, what direction they took with the story and some chatting with the cast.

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Before the Dawn

Tomorrow afternoon, 20th Century Fox will take the stage in Hall H of Comic-Con with several movies to show off. One is a movie that comes out next week and is already getting mixed reviews – The Wolverine. The other is a sequel to a critically praised rebirth of one of the most beloved sci-fi franchises of all-time. Yes, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes appears to be the centerpiece of Fox’s presentation even if they do bring X-Men related surprises. This first banner is an artful tease of what Con attendees should expect in return for waiting in line for hours on-end. Stay hydrated, friends, as the Matt Reeves-directed sequel could be one of the more talked-about presentations of the entire weekend.

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Keri Russell

What is Casting Couch? Casting news, all in a list. Yesterday we asked the question of who would be playing the egotistical front man in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s next film, Birdman. Today we already have our answer, and it happens to be a familiar face. The casting for Matt Reeves’ Dawn of the Planet of the Apes seems to be coming along nicely. Not only does he have Andy Serkis coming back from the first film to play the ape leader, Caesar, but he’s also been picking up some talented folk to round out the human side of the equation as well. Recently he’s signed Jason Clarke, Kodi Smit-McPhee, and Gary Oldman, and now Variety is reporting that you can also add Dark Skies star Keri Russell to the list. Reeves and Russell have worked together before, as he was the co-creator of J.J. Abrams television drama Felicity, which was her first big break. Their’s is a pairing that’s worked well in the past, so long as Russell has kept a healthy head of springy locks, so let’s hope that Apes doesn’t call for Caesar to take any of the human characters prisoner and give them haircuts. One shaved head could ruin the momentum of the whole franchise.

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H

What is Casting Couch? It’s a compiling of all the day’s most notable casting news. Today we’ve got updates on what big book adaptations the Harry Potter kids are moving on to next, among many other things. You better sit down for this one. Ever since genre fans got that glimpse of a post-apocalyptic world where robots were in charge and humans lived in little pockets of resistance cells in James Cameron’s The Terminator, they’ve been clamoring to get a proper robot war movie. Well, that may never happen, but Matt Reeves’ upcoming Dawn of the Planet of the Apes sequel might give them the next best thing: a proper ape war. Coming Soon has word that Dawn is mostly going to be about one of these pockets of human rebels fighting against a world that’s now controlled by the apes, and perhaps most excitingly, they’ve learned that Gary Oldman has signed on to play the leader of this human resistance. This is fitting, because Oldman is so awesome he probably really would be the best guy to put in charge if super-intelligent apes tried to take over the world. He could make them back down with just the authority in his voice.

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quvenzhane-wallis

What is Casting Couch? It’s full of casting news, just full of it. Today you can find out what’s next for foreign heartthrobs Michael Roskam and Marion Cotillard. Quvenzhané Wallis has been in the news a lot lately. Not only did the adorable nine-year-old stir up some controversy at Sunday’s Oscar ceremony by skinning a puppy and wearing it as a purse, she’s also been the subject of rumors regarding the Will Smith-produced remake of Annie. After Smith’s daughter Willow dropped out of the film’s starring role because she’s probably in her twenties now or something, it was rumored that Wallis would be stepping in to take her place. Deadline now confirms that this is indeed the case, and Wallis is all set to become the new face of everyone’s favorite orphan. Easy A’s Will Gluck will direct her.

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Jason Clarke

Not much is yet known about Matt Reeves’ (Let Me In) follow-up to Rupert Wyatt’s 2011 film, Rise of the Planet of the Apes. We know that it’s going to be called Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, that Andy Serkis is going to be back to do his part in bringing the ape leader Caesar to life, and that it’s supposed to take place somewhere around fifteen years after Caesar’s battle with the authorities on the Golden Gate Bridge. Thanks to a report from THR though, we now know the first name that’s going to be joining Serkis in the film’s cast. According to the trade, rising in popularity actor Jason Clarke has signed on to star in the film. Though Clarke has been getting regular work for coming up on two decades now, it’s been just recently that his film career has really started to get traction. Last year he was not only able to steal some scenes from the wildly charismatic Tom Hardy in John Hillcoat’s Lawless, but he also managed to turn a lot of heads and create a lot of buzz as the CIA agent who interrogates and water boards a prisoner in Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty.

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When word first broke that Rise of the Planet of the Apes director Rupert Wyatt wouldn’t be returning to direct the sequel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, there was a moment of panic. But now that they’ve announced that Let Me In director Matt Reeves has stepped in to take the job, things have calmed down a bit, and it’s become time for work on the sequel to move forward. So, what’s the next step? It seems Fox has decided that it’s taking another pass at the script. While a first draft for the film was written by Rise writers Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, and a second draft was written for Wyatt by Scott Burns (Contagion), now that Wyatt is off of the picture the studio wants to tweak it once again, this time to tailor it to the strengths of Reeves. In order to get the job done, THR reports that they’ve brought on Mark Bomback, the screenwriter who collaborated with Len Wiseman on Live Free or Die Hard and Total Recall; who wrote Tony Scott’s last film, Unstoppable; and who co-wrote Fox’s upcoming super hero sequel The Wolverine.  Of course, what Bomback knows about tailoring a movie to Matt Reeves’ strengths is something of a mystery, but it should be noted that, given his placement on two big Fox properties, the studio must see him as being something of a golden boy these days.

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Matt Reeves Directing

When it was first announced that 20th Century Fox was making a prequel to Planet of the Apes that would star James Franco and a CG ape, not too many people welcomed the news with a whole lot of optimism. But once Rise of the Planet of the Apes hit theaters, it ended up blowing most everyone who saw it away. Director Rupert Wyatt took a less than appealing idea for a movie and ended up telling the sort of affecting, personal story that tentpole blockbusters rarely end up pulling off. So it was kind of heartbreaking to learn that Wyatt wasn’t going to be returning for the sequel and Fox was looking at a shortlist of directors to replace him. It turns out things might not be as bad as they originally looked though, because ComingSoon is reporting that the studio has found their Dawn of the Planet of the Apes director, and at first glance he appears to be a perfect replacement. The guy is Matt Reeves.

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Rupert Wyatt

While 20th Century Fox has yet to make an official announcement regarding the rumors that Rise of the Planet of the Apes helmer Rupert Wyatt will not be returning for the film’s sequel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, chatter continues to abound when it comes to the state of the project. The next level of such chatter now appears to lead directly to Hollywood’s version of letter to Santa: the “short list.” Deadline Hollywood reports that the studio has cooked up a short list of filmmakers they’d potentially like to see direct the next installment of their critical and commercial darling. That list supposedly contains names like Matt Reeves (interesting, considering that it was only yesterday that news got out that Reeves had to drop out of the Twilight Zone film due to scheduling conflicts), J Blakeson (The Disappearance of Alice Creed, and the real head-scratcher of the bunch), Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, Jeff Nichols (a personal favorite), Guillermo del Toro, Juan Antonio Bayona, and Rian Johnson (though the outlet also reports that Johnson’s reps deny that he’s “in the hunt” for the gig). Talk about a mixed bag.

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Consider this a bit of serious Hollywood housekeeping after a long, boring holiday weekend. In quick succession, a bevy of release dates (some new, some moved) have been fired out of the Hollywood cannon and straight into Reject HQ eyeballs. Ouch, Hollywood, seriously, those are our eyes. After the break, check out a full round-up of today’s many (too many, really) release date shuffles and announcements, including dates for sequels to both Rise of the Planet of the Apes and X-Men: First Class, along with a new date for Thor 2 and a big move for The Lone Ranger, all rounded out by some fun assorted dates, like so much Fun Size candy of the calendar.

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