War for the Planet of the Apes Director Calls It a Revenge Western

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After two wildly successful movies, 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes and 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, 20th Century Fox is getting ready to unveil the third installment in this hit franchise centering on the powerful ape Caesar, played by Andy Serkis. While we wait for the next trailer to debut, director Matt Reeves and star Andy Serkis shed some light on this movie in a new interview. This action-packed sci-fi thriller will focus on how both the apes and humanity engage in a war for their own livelihood.

Entertainment Weekly caught up with both Matt Reeves and Andy Serkis as part of their summer movie preview. When we first met Caesar, he was just one ape among many, who was raised by James Franco’s character Will Rodman. Now he is a fully grown ape who has evolved into a family man and commander of a growing ape army that squares off with a mysterious Colonel (Woody Harrelson) and his human army. Here’s what Andy Serkis had to say about his iconic character.

“It’s very rare that an actor can get to play the whole life of a character. It’s Boyhood, but for apes. It’s my Apehood!”

The story takes place two years after Dawn of the Plant of the Apes, which represents a much smaller time jump this time around. 15 years had passed between Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, with this new story centering on this conflict between the apes and the Colonel shortly after the end of the previous sequel. Director Matt Reeves revealed that Caesar goes on a “revenge mission” in this movie.

“It finally cracks Caesar. It sets him on a revenge mission. The movie goes from being this grand war movie to an almost Josey Wales-like Western.”

This movie also introduces a new human character, a young girl named Nova (Amiah Miller), who becomes part of Caesar’s “posse,” and Bad Ape, a talking ape played by Steve Zahn. The movie opens with a “stunning ape-versus-human battle through the forest,” with the rest of the story taking Caesar to the snow-capped Sierra Mountains. Here’s what Andy Serkis had to say about this war with the Colonel.

“The Colonel comes across as someone who’s psychotic. But he is fighting for the survival of humanity, as Caesar is fighting for the apes. Expect a loser, but no real winners.”

War for the Planet of the Apes also stars Gabriel Chavarria, Judy Greer and Karin Konoval. Matt Reeves directs from a script he co-wrote with Mark Bomback. The movie will hit theaters on July 14, which has that date to itself, but comes a week after Spider-Man: Homecoming and a week after Dunkirk. Hopefully we’ll have more on War for the Planet of the Apes soon.

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