The magic of motion capture

By Nick Romano
June 30, 2017 at 12:31 PM EDT

War for the Planet of the Apes

  • Movie

Motion-capture performances don’t have their own category at the Oscars or Golden Globes, but Andy Serkis continues to show how spectacular this technology can be. The actor returns again as Caesar in War for the Planet of the Apes, and a new video shows off the mind-blowing transformation from man-in-grey-spandex to a living, breathing, sweating, tortured ape leader.

The footage, released by 20th Century Fox, features a scene of Serkis on the film’s set with his face decked out in dots that the cameras then use as reference points to craft Caesar’s movements. As he begins a monologue about “the blood and carnage of the past” leading to “a world founded upon faith and understanding,” his form fades and Caesar emerges.

Weta Digital comprises the cinematic wizardry behind this transformation. Serkis worked with the visual effects company in playing Gollum in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, a role he returned to in the Hobbit films. He also transformed into Peter Jackson’s King Kong and first became Caesar in 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

See how far the technology has come since then in a behind-the-scenes featurette from Rise.

War for the Planet of the Apes, sees Caesar and his tribe in the middle of a brutal war with humans, led by a vicious Colonel played by Woody Harrelson. This inevitable confrontation will bring out a darker side to Caesar’s psyche.

Critics are already calling the film, which opens July 14, “the best entry in the series.”

Episode Recaps

War for the Planet of the Apes

  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • Matt Reeves