How Matt Reeves Muscled His Way Into Planet Of The Apes

Going into “Dawn,” Matt Reeves met with producers Dylan Clark and Peter Chernin. The filmmaker spoke to Vanity Fair about boarding the project, specifically when he “suggested throwing out the screenplay entirely,” because the apes were more advanced than where they were in “Rise.” Reeves’ ambition to tell his own story came from the potential he saw in picking up where “Rise” left off:

“The premise presented itself very strongly, very quickly to me. What I love about ‘Rise’ is how emotional it was, and I said, ‘I think there’s a way to do something really emotional here.'”

“Dawn” picks up ten years after “Rise,” with Caesar and his ape colony living in isolation in the Muir Woods. While not technologically advanced, Caesar and his apes are sophisticated enough to build huts, teach their young, and create basic weapons and tools. More importantly, the establishment of this period allowed Reeves to craft a story about Caesar’s leadership and rise to the occasion in a tumultuous time for his kind. A much more advanced ape civilization would ill-suit the story of Caesar we see in “Dawn.”

The burgeoning society in “Dawn” challenges Caesar as a character, with Koba (Toby Kebbell) in particular causing trouble with a coup that pins an attempt on Caesar’s life on a struggling human colony. The film paints a powerful picture of the struggles of a good leader, with Caesar learning the hard way that apes can, sometimes, be just as bad as humans.

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