Contrary to what many might have predicted, the latest film in the Apes franchise, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, has been met with enthusiastic responses from both audience and critics. It appears as if they’ve finally gotten the Apey formula down and, naturally, the next step will be to continue on to making a third installment, which will likely be followed by a fourth and a fifth. There’s a lot of expectations and a lot to be done to make this happen and, in a recent interview with io9, director Matt Reeves chatted a bit about how he plans on keeping the franchise successful.
Warning! Contains spoilers! If you haven’t seen Dawn of the Planet of the Apes yet, turn back now!
When asked about whether or not the Apes movies will reach the point where humans are the semi-intelligent slaves that we remember from the original, Reeves had this to say:
Yeah, there’s all kinds of things that we’re on the exploration of. It’s not necessarily that we’re meaning to go exactly back to the ’68 film and redo that film exactly as it is. But, to me, it’s like a signpost up ahead. There’s a trajectory, we’re in that direction. And all of those details that we know become a kind of unraveling. It’s like, “how did we get there and how did that happen?” That is something that I’m very interested in exploring.
When the subject of Caesar-as-God and the evolution of the Ape religion came up:
He becomes a very mythic character. And he’s the Caesar that shall begin other Caesars. Given that we know the ending of the story and we know that Caesar has these ties to humans and to apes, and that everything gets really turned upside down by the world of the ’68 film…
The question is how do we get there? And this then becomes a generational story. A story of not only Caesar and his family, but his children and how this story continues down that path. How Caesar becomes the first, truly mythic god-like character for the apes. He’s very seminal figure for the apes. The idea, the objective for the story was to being the beginning of that mythic status for him. He goes from being a kind of revolutionary to a kind of leader to a mythic god.
When asked about how the apes and their culture will progress in future films:
There’s an important moment in the movie where Caesar admits that as much as he felt he was human, and as much as he felt that [James] Franco was his father and he had this connection to humans, in discovering what he was and returning to being an ape and freeing those apes from their bondage and beginning a civilization together — fulfilling that family in a way that he never really quite had when he was young — he really came to believe that apes were better than humans. And would not suffer a similar fate.
The big revelation for him in a very “through the looking glass” science fiction way was just how human the apes are. They came to realize what their limitations where their failing their ability to lose control. To sort of lose their ability to resist violence. Caesar’s constantly struggling against his violent impulses.
Now we start to go into this place where self preservation starts to be the order of the day. He knows there’s no going back and explaining, “the apes didn’t really mean to attack the humans, they were misled by a rogue ape.” That’s not something you can really explain to a society. And he realizes that now he has to grapple with the reality. He’s got pulls in both worlds, this is going to be a very painful journey for him, and for the apes.
There’s quite a bit of potential in the franchise and it’s nice to see that Reeves is really looking toward the long-term future of the franchise instead of just planning out how he’ll make it through the next one. It’s the attention to elements such as culture and religion that will allow the Apes’ world-building to be successful in the end. It’s this sort of farsightedness that can make a series into something truly memorable. And with the distant future of the world already established by the original movie series, he has a light waiting for him at the end of this tunnel.
As long as the franchise can continue to hold up with each individual installment, it should go on for quite some time. Let’s just hope they don’t start cutting corners and crapping out on the quality of their cast and crew. And gods forbid they allow Michael Bay to come in and direct one of the films…
What say the Nerd Readers? Did Dawn of the Planet of the Apes do it for you? Are you eager to see where they take the franchise next? Or do you still think the original movies will always be the best?