I've written countless articles about the Rise of the Planet of the Apes franchise, and in practically every single one I have to include a reference to just how much the 2011 reboot of the sci-fi classic surprised everyone - myself included (I also have to include a pun about gorilla resistance, but that's just because it's a great pun).
After the travesty which was the downright creepy 2001 remake, many of us did not expect much more from the CGI-heavy Planet of the Apes prequel. As it turns out, it was one of the best blockbusters of the year - a big budget movie which wasn't afraid to spend the majority of the movie establishing relationships and motivations between characters.
With this in mind, Fox was eager to bring back director Rupert Wyatt for the sequel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. As it turned out, Wyatt did not believe he could produce a worthwhile movie in the time schedule Fox demanded. He graciously dropped out to be replaced by Matt Reeves. Now, in a conversation with Collider, Wyatt has revealed some of what his Dawn of the Planet of the Apes would have looked like.
First, he explained his enthusiasm for the Reeves directed sequel:
I thought it was beautifully directed; an incredibly well-made film. It’s hard, you know, because I very much wanted to do the sequel. I was very passionate about doing the sequel and other films. I love that franchise and I’m thrilled in a way for Matt and what he achieved with that because he achieved something I probably couldn’t have because he did something different. He’s his own filmmaker, I’m a different filmmaker, so it’s great he’s had success with that film and the fact that the franchise lives, that’s what we’re all hoping for. So for that, I was thrilled when I was watching it. I just had a very different take, and very different idea of what the movie was going to be, so it’s always going to be colored by that.
He then went into detail about what his take on the sequel would have looked like. One the major differences appears to be the speed with which he would have advanced the story. Instead of seeing the apes in a simple tribal like society, Wyatt hoped to show them embrace and develop technology. He stated:
To be honest, it’s not that different, I guess. For me, the majority of revolutions, probably the American Revolution aside, 9 times out of 10 result in civil war. A revolution happens and then it fragments, and you have a civil war. So we always set out on that path with Caesar and Koba becoming in a way the Martin Luther King Jr. and the Malcolm X of the revolution and the clash as the result of that.
I think the fundamental thing I wanted to do, which I think the franchise will probably do—and I haven’t talked specifically to Matt or Mark Bomback, the writer, of where they’re going with this—but I would imagine the thing that they’re going to go to was the thing I was hoping to do with the sequel, which is go into the cities. Evolve technically, sort of figure out the combustion engine, so in a way interact with our society. And for me, I found that fascinating, and I guess what Matt wanted to do—and obviously it was his first Apes film—was play out more the interim aspect of it. Keep them in the forest for longer and stuff, so that was the fundamental difference between our takes on it.
As Wyatt points out at the beginning of the quote, ultimately his vision does not seem that markedly different from what Reeves developed. Sure, there were likely major differences in the execution (perhaps Reeves wouldn't have included quite so many machine-gun totting chimps on horseback), but thematically the technological development of the apes was present in Dawn.
Most notably, this 'industrialization' of the apes is present in Koba's growing appreciation of human firearms. This change sees Koba and his faction almost becoming a de facto army on technological par with the human survivors - further justifying how a band of apes could potentially take over the world. For me, this element was slightly synonymous with the opening scenes of 2001: A Space Odyssey. In that iconic sequence, an ape, which has been exposed to the monolith, learns of the terrifying whacking power of the humble bone. Dawn did something similar, although they chose to use a 5.56mm M4A1 assault rifle instead.
It's also worth noting that although they are seen occasionally holding guns, neither Caesar or his equally peacefully minded human companion, Malcolm (Jason Clarke) are ever seen using them in anger - in fact Caesar demands their destruction. Alternatively, the intolerant and warlike Koba and Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) are obsessed with their acquisition and use them frequently. A subtle message perhaps? I'll let you decide.
If you're eager to re-experience Matt Reeves Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, you'll be able to pick up a copy of the film on DVD and Blu-Ray from December 2nd.
Which of Planet of the Apes sequels do you prefer?