Home Movies “Planet of the Apes” is Back: Woody Harrelson Plays a Cross Between...

After this coming week, and several bad weeks (save for “Wonder Woman”) maybe Hollywood will be saved after all. Matt Reeves’ “War For The Planet of the Apes” will be a monster hit for 20th Century Fox. (The reviews are embargoed until Monday June 26th at 6 :00 am PT.   The film opens July 14th.) 

At the first advance small screening for some crew and press, director/co-writer director and co-writer Reeves told the small group of crew and press that he just finished the film “a couple of days ago.” 

Jane Goodall, the world’s foremost expert on chimpanzees and a revered animal advocate, saw the film in an unfinished version.  “She loved the movie, and I met her, just the most amazing person. She had her chimp doll, which I learned she carries everywhere, with her.  She won’t go to a movie that uses any animal in a cruel situation, so she loved this, since it’s all Weta [visual effects company] created.”

I asked him that the film seems to reflect exactly what’s going on today.

“We (Matt along with Mark Bomback) started writing this three years ago.   I wanted to make sure this is Caesar’s movie.  You see these two tribes and they’re both squatting on the same land, and the question is are they going to be able to co-exist or is it going to turn to violence? But it’s not Planet of the Humans it’s Planet of the Apes.  It’s a war movie, and we wanted it to root in stuff that feels real and to reflect human nature.

“The weird thing is that as we were starting to shoot this movie, there were all these events that were weirdly resonating and I was so like, ‘this is so odd.’  We didn’t set out to do all this timely stuff but it all sort of aligned, as it got closer.  So people thought we were writing about this situation and that. I had to tell people that, it took three years to make this movie. So in our exploration to make a war movie, there are some elements that seem to have relevance, which is cool.

“The leg of the story is about cementing Caesar’s position as the seminal figure of all ape history.  We were trying to make a biblical epic.  We watched “Ben Hur” and “Ten Commandments.”  All very mythic kind of ideas.  So this weird resonance of timeliness comes with the idea that these are mythic human stories that have resonance in the world as it is now.”

Regarding Woody Harrelson’s ruthless Colonel character, I mentioned to me it’s a cross between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un. 

Reeves replied, “Woody plays a ‘Kurtzian’ type, referencing Marlon Brando’s infamous Colonel Kurtz in “Apocalypse Now.”

The domestic/ international junket is in London because Woody is shooting the Hans Solo movie there.

P.S. Andy Serkis is just wonderful. They are pushing him for Best Actor. Woody, Steve Zahn, Judy Greer are all great.  

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