Among the hotly-anticipated comic book adaptations and superhero blockbusters that will be hitting theaters in the 2017 summer movie season are new installments in such lucrative sci-fi genre franchises as Transformers, Alien and Planet of the Apes. By that point, three years will have passed since the theatrical release of the last Apes installment, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes; a sequel to 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes, itself a prequel/reboot film that introduced the world to the genetically-altered chimpanzee named Caesar (played via motion-capture by Andy Serkis).
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes picked up in a world ravaged by the manmade virus (also referred to as the “Simian Flu”) unleashed in Rise ten years earlier, where Caesar leads a small village of apes living on the outskirts of his old home, San Francisco – aware that a war with the surviving members of the human race might well be an inevitability. The movie concluded on the verge of war between humanity and ape-kind finally breaking out in full, so it’s only fitting that the filmmakers behind that chapter in Caesar’s story – in particular, co-writer/director Matt Reeves – are returning to tell the next chapter in the story too: War for the Planet of the Apes.
20th Century Fox’s announcement that War for the Planet of the Apes will be featured at the fast-approaching 2016 New York Comic-Con included with it an official synopsis for the film – which you can read below:
In War for the Planet of the Apes, the third chapter of the critically acclaimed blockbuster franchise, Caesar and his apes are forced into a deadly conflict with an army of humans led by a ruthless Colonel. After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins this own mythic quest to avenge his kind. As the journey finally brings them face to face, Caesar and the Colonel are pitted against each other in an epic battle that will determine the fate of both their species and the future of the planet.
The Colonel in War for the Planet of the Apes, as was previously reported, is being portrayed by acclaimed Hunger Games and True Detective veteran, Woody Harrelson. Reeves has also referenced the “mythic quest” that Caesar undergoes over the course of the movie in the past, saying it will continue along the same trajectory as the character’s overarching journey from previous Apes installments – going from his days as a revolutionary in Rise of the Planets of the Apes to his time as a leader in Dawn and now “a seminal figure in ape history [or] ape Moses,” as Reeves has put it.
Both Rise and especially Dawn of the Planet of the Apes were lauded for painting a complicated portrait of the Caesar character, in addition to exploring a narrative with overt social/political overtones and serving up a a healthy amount of big-budget action and spectacle-driven entertainment, at the same time. The bar for War for the Planets of the Apes to clear has thus been set pretty high, but Reeves and his collaborators (including, talented new franchise cast additions like Harrelson) seem up for the challenge. If so, there’s little reason to believe that the movie won’t be able to stand out and become another lucrative addition to the franchise; not least of all because there really aren’t any other tentpoles being made nowadays that are quite like the Planet of the Apes movies.
War for the Planet of the Apes opens in U.S. theaters on July 14th, 2017.