The way that Notary and his fellow mo-cap performers – including Andy Serkis as the current Planet of the Apes series protagonist Caesar – play their onscreen counterparts has continued to evolve in the present-day, over the years since they made Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Notary spoke in some detail about that very subject on the set for War, as he discussed how even his mo-cap acting techniques changed between films:
Before, we were kind of pushing, in the first one of this run, on Rise, we felt like we needed to push it a little bit. By the second one we realized we don’t need to do that, the subtleties come through with the mo-cap now, the ability to capture the nuances and the little emotions, which you can trust that you don’t have to put the emotions in the front body. You can just let it percolate inside. And it oozes out and people can see it. So that’s the biggest thing, is just really not thinking about telling anything, but just being it and knowing that the audience is going to understand it, and get it, and translate it in their own way. That’s kind of our approach.
Burton’s Planet of the Apes is even more of a broad social satire (explored through the lens of a sci-fi action film) than the original 1968 Planet of the Apes movie is, so the Apes having exaggerated mannerisms and features was (at least somewhat) called for. Rise of the Planet of the Apes and its sequels are closer to being sci-fi sociopolitical parables by comparison and thus call for a more subtle portrayal of the Apes. That makes it all the more fitting that the Ape actors in the modern movies have also grown more subtle, as they’ve developed a better feel for proper mo-cap performance techniques.
War for the Planet of the Apes should further challenge Notary and his fellow mo-cap performers too in that respect – what with it being an emotionally-charged war movie, above all else. That description alone is just further proof of how much things have changed for this franchise, over the years since Burton’s Planet of the Apes movie was released in theaters.