Primates seize the spotlight in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.
The follow-up to 2011's Rise of the Planet of the Apes, opening Friday, thrusts viewers into what seems to be an ape-only world led by alpha ape Caesar.
"In my fantasy, this is like The Godfatherof the ape world, with this civilization and Caesar as the Don Corleone of the apes," says director
It required great human performances from the core actors, wearing motion-capture suits to play primates on-screen.
The actors and five parkour expert stuntmen honed their primate technique in a four-week intensive training session led by Notary. Serkis then joined for three days of pure group ape role-playing before shooting.
"We were not even doing scenes from the movie," Reeves says. "It was improvisation of an ape day-in-the-life, seeing what this kingdom would look like."
One impressive scene features 1,000 apes, many on horseback, outside a human compound. But all the ape sounds made the real horses skittish, so "the scene was really 10 guys in suits on stepladders. It looked really cheesy and cheap," Reeves says.
Notary and the stuntmen in motion-capture suits completed the ape tableau, playing each primate background character for the scene to make it appear to be an impressive army. "I literally played hundreds of characters in that scene," Notary says.
"It takes so long to create one ape shot," Reeves says. "But when those first shots started coming in, you realize this movie was going to be something special."
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