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When Andy Serkis started playing Caesar in 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the ape was essentially a rebellious teenager. Two films later, Caesar’s aged into a family man — and the commander-in-chief of a society of evolved apes. “It’s very rare that an actor can get to play the whole life of a character,” says Serkis, who again donned a performance-capture suit to play the noble primate. “It’s Boyhood, but for apes. It’s my Apehood!”
War picks up two years after 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, with a brutal conflict raging between Caesar’s apes and soldiers led by Woody Harrelson’s mysterious Colonel.
“It finally cracks Caesar,” returning director Matt Reeves says. “It sets him on a revenge mission. The movie goes from being this grand war movie to an almost Josey Wales-like Western.” Caesar even has a posse, complete with a human girl, Nova (Amiah Miller), and Bad Ape, a talking chimp (Steve Zahn).
The film opens with a stunning ape-versus-human battle through the forest, and Caesar’s journey carries him to the snowy Sierras, but War’s war is ultimately an intimate battle of wills.
“The Colonel comes across as someone who’s psychotic,” Serkis teases. “But he is fighting for the survival of humanity, as Caesar is fighting for the apes.” Expect a loser, but no real winners.
War for the Planet of the Apes is out July 14.