‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ trailer showcases ape community, brewing war

May 08, 2014 | 8:13 a.m.
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Caesar, the leader of the ape nation, performed by Andy Serkis, in a scene from the movie "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes." (David James/20th Century Fox)

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Caesar, portrayed by Andy Serkis (right) (in performance capture suit) and Malcolm (Jason Clarke), a representative of a colony of human survivors, in a scene from the movie "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes." (David James/20th Century Fox)

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Jason Clarke in a scene from the movie "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes." (David James/20th Century Fox)

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Andy Serkis and director Matt Reeves on the set of the movie "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes." (20th Century Fox)

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Jason Clarke and director Matt Reeves on the set of the movie "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes." (David James)

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Caesar, portrayed by Andy Serkis (in performance capture suit), in a scene from the movie "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes." (David James/20th Century Fox)

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Caesar, portrayed by Andy Serkis (in performance capture suit) in a scene from the movie "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes." (David James/20th Century Fox)

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Caesar, performed by Andy Serkis, in a scene from the movie "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes." (David James/20th Century Fox)

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Caesar, performed by Andy Serkis, in a scene from the movie "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes." (David James/20th Century Fox)

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Caesar, portrayed by Andy Serkis (in performance capture suit), the leader of the ape nation, and Malcolm (Jason Clarke) in a scene from the movie "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes." (David James/20th Century Fox)

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Caesar (Andy Serkis) ponders his next move as he faces a threat posed by a colony of humans in a scene from the movie "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes." (WETA)

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Malcolm (Jason Clarke) is surrounded by apes as he tries to make peace in a scene from the movie "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes." (WETA)

The new trailer for “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” has arrived, showcasing the film’s apocalyptic vistas and the ape civilization that has taken hold.

Set 10 years after the earlier movie, a reboot of the sci-fi franchise inspired by Pierre Boulle’s 1963 novel that brought in more than $480 million at the worldwide box office, the new film posits a world where apes have developed their own community and human sightings are rare.

When a group of survivors — including Jason Clarke’s Malcolm, a single father and former architect; Keri Russell’s Ellie, a nurse; and Gary Oldman’s Dreyfus, the leader of the human colony in the ruins of San Francisco — seeks to restore electrical power to San Francisco, it comes into conflict with the rapidly expanding tribe of apes, led by Andy Serkis’ Caesar. The orphaned offspring of a laboratory chimp who has evolved into the leader of his own expanding tribe that includes wife Cornelia (Judy Greer), teenage son River (Nick Thurston) and a council of close friends.

Conflict between the survivors, however, seems likely to lead only to all-out war, with explosive imagery glimpsed in the latest trailer.

“Caesar’s created a society in which there is complete equality between orangutans and chimpanzees and gorillas,” Serkis said in an interview with Hero Complex. “There are a set of beliefs that they’ve collectively imposed, and there are strict tenets of what they should and shouldn’t do. He’s an egalitarian leader.”

“It’s an ape-point-of-view movie,” added director Matt Reeves (“Cloverfield,” “Let Me In”). “The apes are still coming into being, so it has a kind of majestic but also primitive, tribal aspect to it. … Once you kind of get into that world, then all of a sudden you realize, ‘Oh, there are some humans left.’ The story really is about who will inherit the Earth. This is the one moment where it could have been ‘Planet of the Humans and the Apes.’”

To immerse audiences in the ape-centric world, Reeves pushed performance-capture technology to new terrain. Traditionally, motion-capture movies are filmed in a studio on a stage called a “volume,” with actors’ performances digitally enhanced by animators and visual-effects technicians. “Dawn,” however, was filmed almost entirely on location, with cast and crew trudging through the sweltering humidity of New Orleans and the freezing forests of Vancouver, Canada, lighting gear and enormous 3-D cameras in tow.

“We’re in the woods; we’re not creating the woods,” said Reeves, who takes over the franchise from “Rise” director Rupert Wyatt. “It was crazy hard, but what’s going to be cool about the aesthetic is that you’re going to feel very grounded in the real world, so just the one fantasy is that they’re intelligent apes. No one has done that yet to the level that we did, so it should have a really distinctive feel and look.”

Are you excited to see “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”? What do you think of the new trailer? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

– Noelene Clark and Gina McIntyre

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