One of the biggest movie surprises of the year was Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Director Rupert Wyatt took what could have been a mercilessly exploitive rip off from the established yet dated franchise and injected a whole new lease of life. Sensitively written and directed, and anchored by a spellbinding motion-captured performance by Andy Serkis (who Fox are pushing for an Oscar nomination), I heralded it, in my August 15th review, as my favorite movie so far this year. And I’ve got to say, as we slide into November, it still hasn’t been toppled.
Of course, Fox is salivating at the prospect of an extended series of profitable sequels, and good for them. If they’re as accomplished as this first one, we’re in for quite a hairy ride (I don’t know what it is about ape movies that encourage movie reviewers to start unloading such shudderingly weak puns, but the sheer delight I feel at that one is actually tinged with a hint of despair).
Andy Serkis has already been locked in to play Caesar in an unspecified number of sequels, and Wyatt has as director for at least the next installment. This is nothing but good news, but as yet, there’s no script. Wyatt has revealed some of the ideas he’s been mulling over, however:
“You could start this story again eight years from where we left off, the next generation of apes, those that have come from our protagonists, perhaps going in to a conflict with humans and showing real fear, in the same way as going into war for young soldiers in this day and age, telling their story. Or how apes are taking over cities, and being moved into human environments and having to interact with them and deal with things that are part of our culture and understand and evolve through them. Spies that are in the employ of the apes, working against humans and humans maybe existing underground, because that’s a way they can avoid the virus, coming up above ground wearing gas masks, and maybe that’s what dehumanizes them.”
And in an interview from comingsoon.net:
“The great thing about apes is they reach adulthood within 8 years, so you’d still have a very vital Caesar as the leader but you’ve got a whole new generation of apes growing up within a world of conflicts. That world is where we’ve leveled the playing field in terms of the human pockets of resistance. Think apes but “Full Metal Jacket,” apes going into urban environments and fighting street-to-street with human resistance. Maybe you’ve got humans in the employ of the apes working as spies against the humans. Or you’ve got Cobra who’s split off from the other apes and he’s looking to commit genocide and just wipe humans off the face of the earth, whereas Caesar is more conflicted. There’s so much you can do, it’s so Shakespearian in a way. I guess I’d like to follow in the steps of Chris Nolan, the way he’s taken Batman into a place that’s really intriguing and pretty dark. This film in many ways is a fairy tale like a baby floating in a basket down the river. It starts small and gets bigger.”
How refreshing to have a director making movies for us that don’t revolve around creating ever more spectacular explosions punctuated by smarmily quipped one-liners. With no script, however, we’re not going to be seeing a release date anytime soon.
More good news is that Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, Rise‘s screenwriters, are also returning. There’s no word yet on any attachment for James Franco and Freida Pinto, but as they weren’t much more than supporting characters in the first one there’s no great loss there if their roles aren’t reprised.
It’s incredible to consider how far we’ve come, in a single generation, from a man in a monkey suit.