The new title for the next Planet of the Apes movie has just been revealed, and it's made me absolutely confident that the series is heading in the best possible direction. Here's why...
There's a pretty significant moment in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes that sticks out in my mind as being the point at which I was irrevocably and instantaneously won over by the franchise. I believe it was around the time that I witnessed a battalion of apes riding into battle on horseback (while liberally firing machine guns) that I thought to myself: "huh, this movie is actually pretty dope."
The full on inter-species conflict that violently erupted on a massive city-wide scale was - in my opinion - the absolute highlight of the reboots thus far, that absurd yet totally badass image of armed primate cavalry epitomizing one of the franchise's strongest assets: its gleeful sense of mayhem.
But what if that one standout moment from the last movie was extended to a two hour long fight to the death between human and ape? Well, the title of the next installment indicates we may well be in for just that kind of wish fulfillment, because it will be called...
War of the Planet of the Apes!
That's right - after both rising and dawning, the filmmakers are scrapping their sun-orientated metaphors in favor of all out war, sure to push these two species to the edge of extinction.
The new title makes complete sense, considering the Caesar's prophetic closing lines of the last film were:
"War has… already begun. Ape started war. And human… Human will not forgive."
Upping the Ante
In an interview with Collider, director Matt Reeves said he was actually planning to show a little more of the conflict and go "one step further" in Dawn, but this ending was ultimately scrapped:
"We actually did have an ending that went one step further, and I realized late in the game, ‘Wait a minute. I don’t want us to be boxed in in this way.
What was really most important was to leave you in that emotional space with Caesar, which is the ending of the movie that you’ve seen, and know that the future is coming, but not already be at that future.
So yeah, there actually was another version of the movie, and that version never even got fully realized. We cut it late, but the effects for it weren’t realized for it either."
This alternate conclusion was heavily hinted at when Dreyfus told Malcolm that the military was on its way to San Francisco. There's also a massive giveaway hidden in the movie's international trailer that was eventually cut from the final version. See if you can spot what it is below:
Did you notice the military warship cruising into the San Francisco Bay? Though never featured in the film, it was clearly part of a larger sequence detailing the army's increasing involvement in the conflict - something we're sure to see more of next time around...
What Else Can We Expect?
Well, other than some seriously epic clashes, we can also look forward to a greater focus on Caesar, as he's forced to become a the apes' great benevolent leader according to Reeves:
"[It's] about him becoming the seminal figure for ape history. [It’s] like myth ascension, him becoming the ape Moses, for lack of a better sort of character to model him after."
Interesting that he'd choose that particular Biblical reference. Moses, of course, was most famous for leading his people, the Israelites, to the promised lands and their freedom. Apt, considering the hierarchical relationship between human and monkey / owner and slave that the series has centered on.
But what kind of freedom will Caesar be able to offer and will he be able to repel the full military force of humanity's remnants?
I guess we'll all find out when War of the Planet of the Apes opens July 14, 2017.