I’m aware that headline is enough to make some people yell sacrilege and start from a place of simply, yet firmly, saying “no.” But please, just hear me out. Andy Serkis headlined the recent Planet of the Apes trilogy, which followed Caesar on his epic journey and traced the origins of how the Earth came to be overrun with smart apes in the first place. Yet, after War for the Planet of the Apes, many were left to wonder, where do we go from here? I’m here to kindly suggest that it’s finally time this series tackles the events of the original classic that started it all.
A little background on why now is the time to discuss this very topic. Disney finally completed its merger with Fox in March. Disney decided to ax most of Fox’s development slate, but it was confirmed that they do intend to keep this particular franchise going. No sequel was announced following 2017’s War for the Planet of the Apes, but the door was left open for a continuation. Heading into a fourth movie, it’s hard to imagine anything more bold than tackling the events of the original from a totally new perspective. Especially if we consider putting Andy Serkis at the helm.
Warning: spoilers ahead for those who aren’t caught up on the current Apes trilogy. At the end of War for the Planet of the Apes, Caesar dies, but not before leading his group to salvation. The movie ends with the hero of the series peacefully fading away, but with the apes having new hope for the future. Certainly, it could have served as a satisfying enough conclusion. However, with Disney planning to continue the series, Andy Serkis could shift his role from in front of the camera to behind the camera to do something potentially very exciting.
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Andy Serkis is known best for his work as a motion-capture pioneer. The technology he helped perfect, starting with Gollum in Lord of the Rings peaked with his work in the Planet of the Apes trilogy. Through three movies, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and War for the Planet of the Apes, he helped to make these creatures feel so real and tangible, it’s hard to sometimes remember that they’re digital creations. While Matt Reeves directed the previous two installments, it could be argued that Serkis knows this world better than anyone.
And that brings us to the main point. Matt Reeves is about to direct The Batman and, if things go well, he’ll make a sequel, if not a whole trilogy of DC flicks with Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne. That means, Disney will need to find a new director for their planned Apes installment. Andy Serkis, meanwhile, aside from his prior work in the franchise, has since gone on to explore a career as a director. Breathe served as his feature debut in 2017, but he then moved onto Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle and has since locked in a gig helming Venom 2. So he’ll certainly have the experience needed in that respect come time for this project to get going.
As for the notion of remaking Planet of the Apes? Little seeds have already been planted in the previous movies. We had the tease of several men being sent on a mysterious space mission, a thread that clearly was meant to set up their return to a planet, which they’ll discover is overrun by intelligent apes. Plus, we’ve sort of exhausted the whole apes battling men for the future of the planet thing. Any further trips down that rabbit hole would feel repetitive, and it would be a shame to sully the greatness of War for the Planet of the Apes.
Tim Burton’s famed disastrous 2001 remake of Planet of the Apes, starring Mark Wahlberg, proved there is no point in tackling the 1968 classic head-on. This time, the twist, as it were, would already be out in the open. The audience would know George Taylor, originally played by the great Charlton Heston, is on Earth and not some strange, distant planet in the cosmos. It would allow for an entirely new way into that original story. Come at it from an entirely new angle. And if such a thing is to be attempted, why not let the man who knows this series inside and out take a stab at it?
Here’s the point. Disney is going to make a new Apes movie because there is money to be made. But to truly make it work, we need to see something bold. And something that can grab people’s attention after a few years away from the franchise. What better way to do that than with an unconventional remake of the classic that started it all? Your move, Walt Disney Studios.
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