Comic-Con: DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES Panel Recap; Matt Reeves and Andy Serkis Talk Caesar’s Story, Moving Towards PLANET OF THE APES, and More

     July 20, 2013


The Planet of the Apes franchise was successfully rebooted a couple of years ago with director Rupert Wyatt’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes.  The undisputed standout of the film was Andy Serkis’ brilliant portrayal of the ape Caesar, gorgeously brought to life by the people at Weta.  Fox’s sequel to that film, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, is one of the big summer tentpoles of 2014, and the film debuted some footage at Comic-Con in Hall H earlier today.  During the panel, director Matt Reeves (Let Me In) and cast members Jason Clarke, Keri Russell, and Serkis talked about focusing the story on Caesar, moving forward with a series in which the final outcome is already known, and much, much more.

Hit the jump to read my full recap of the Comic-Con panel for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

Moderator Geoff Boucher introduced director Matt Reeves and cast members Jason Clarke, Keri Russell, and Andy Serkis.

Replacing Rupert Wyatt as director:

  • dawn-of-the-planet-of-the-apes-logoReeves said that as a kid he was obsessed with Star Wars, but way before that he was obsessed with Planet of the Apes.  When he saw Rise of the Planet of the Apes, he felt like Rupert Wyatt’s vision made the audience completely connect with the apes through Andy Serkis’ performance and Weta’s effects

  • They wanted to do a Caesar-centric story that takes place in the world of the apes, working on a grander scale.

  • This is a story about how we get from Rise to the original Planet of the Apes.

  • Reeves was excited because we know where the story goes, but it’s now all about how we get there.  He said the movie is really about character and psychology.

Returning to Caesar:

  • Serkis says one of the challenges was portraying Caesar as a leader who has evolved with responsibility. He wants to inject the ape society with some of the humanity that he grew up with.

  • rise-of-the-planet-of-the-apesAll of the apes together are strong, and not only is Caesar 10 years older, he has a wife and infant baby and teenage son. He also oversees a Council of Apes.  It’s about what the choices are with the reaction to the arrival of the humans.

  • We see Caesar and the other apes learning to communicate with not just words but also sign language and gestures.

  • It’s a rich and fertile ground for exploring the inner ape and reflecting a lot about humanity.

Keri Russell reuniting with Matt Reeves:

  • Russell said she’s here because of Matt Reeves, who was a writer on Felicity.  “He’s really created a world of these two communities to survive, and each community is trying to protect its own family.”

The action in the film:

  • Clarke said he’s most excited to see some of the action scenes.  He said that Cirque du Solei and parkour guys were hired to inhabit the apes onscreen to do the live stunts.

dawn-of-the-planet-of-the-apes-andy-serkis-jason-clarkeReeves then debuted some footage. It takes 10-12 weeks to create one ape shot, so he cautioned that there wouldn’t be a lot of shots of apes.

The fairly short reel of footage focused mostly on the humans, as we were treated to shots of the post-apocalyptic society while Gary Oldman’s character made a sort of rallying speech.  The footage gave me a strong The Road vibe, as the human society has devolved into chaos.  There’s a great deal of intensity brewing, and we saw some fleeting images of Oldman firing a gun, structures overrun with grass, and Clarke’s character hiding behind a wall.  Oldman mentioned in his speech that the humans spent four years fighting the virus and another four years fighting each other, and it has clearly taken its toll on the society.

The final shot of the footage opened close on the eyes of a fully-rendered Caesar sporting a bit of white war paint on his face and chest, and it slowly pulled back to reveal Caesar flanked by a number of other apes, with Caesar holding a staff in his hand and signaling for the other apes to hold.  His face is intense, and as he drops his hand to signal a “charge,” the footage cut to black and revealed the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes logo.

Closing thoughts:

The panel wasn’t opened up to audience Q&A, but the footage that Reeves showed was really strong.  Whereas Rise of the Planet of the Apes had a fairly light color palette, Dawn is much darker.  Reeves seems to have done a great deal of world building for the Dawn universe, and I love the grounded portrayal of the new civilizations.  I’m also interested to see “a story of two communities,” as it definitely sounds like we’ll be delving deeper into the psyche of Caesar and how his ape civilization progresses towards the inevitable outcome.

Click here for all our Comic-Con coverage

Around The Web

Latest News


Sean Connery is surely thrilled.

BURYING THE EX: New Trailer Teases Joe Dante’s Horror Rom-Com

Anton Yelchin, Alexandra Daddario and Ashley Green star in the horror master's latest.

POINT BREAK Remake Trailer Dives into the World of Extreme Sports

Edgar Ramirez and Luke Bracey fill the roles previously played by Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze.

BELLE Director to Helm David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike in A UNITED KINGDOM

Amma Asante will direct the true story of royal family member Seretse Khama, who came under fire when he married a white woman in 1949.


Plus the posters for Woody Allen’s ‘Irrational Man’ and the patriot dog movie, ‘Max’.

SAN ANDREAS: 18 Things to Know About the Dwayne Johnson Disaster Movie

Johnson, Alexandra Daddario, Paul Giamatti, and more spill the beans about their new film, Spielberg influences, and more.


Matt and Adam talk about the film's themes, flaws, goals, post-production, and how the movie relates to the careers of director Brad Bird and co-writer Damon Lindelof.

Second Chance: Cameron Crowe’s ELIZABETHTOWN Deserves Another Look

"Manic Pixie Dream Girl" aside, it's time to reconsider Crowe's much-maligned 'Vanilla Sky' follow-up.

THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL: First Trailer For the Smash Sundance Hit

Writer/director Marielle Heller's feature debut tackles the tricky subject matter of the female sexual awakening.

New X-MEN: APOCALYPSE Set Photo Teases Caliban

The mutant has a strong connection to Oscar Isaac's villainous Apocalypse.

Page 1 of 3,96612345...102030...Last »