Rise of the Planet of the Apes proved to be something of a surprise commercial success, grossing $484 million around the world and impressing audience and critics alike, mainly due to Andy Serkis’ amazing, soulful – and largely silent – performance as Caesar, the genetically-modified chimpanzee who ends up leading a society of intelligent apes.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, director Matt Reeves’ sequel – set fifteen years after that prequel – seems to be humming along. The cast is filled with some stellar character actors, with Gary Oldman playing the leader of the human resistance, Judy Greer donning a motion-capture suit to play a chimpanzee (and love interest of Serkis’ Caesar), with Keri Russell and Zero Dark Thirty standout Jason Clarke portraying the human leads. While we’ve already seen set photos featuring a mo-cap-wearing Andy Serkis on horseback, the project has been kept well under wraps.

Now, a series of photos of the New Orleans set – standing in for San Francisco – has now surfaced, courtesy of CBM. You can view them Below


We know from the official synopsis that since Caesar led his band of intelligent simians into the wilderness to establish a new civilization at the end of Rise, most of humanity has been wiped out from the same virus that created the ‘smart apes.’ A small group of survivors – led by Clarke and Russell, presumably – struggle to stay alive and forge a truce with the roaming, dominating apes.

The set photos provide our first real glimpse of the world to come. The run-down buildings are overrun with vines, and it appears that whomever is left in this future San Francisco (one amusing detail is the inclusion of one of SF’s public restrooms as a place-marker) lives in wooden shacks. Some of these photos also raise some interesting questions. For instance, just what is that large, hatch-looking hole in the side of one of the buildings? Seeing how it looks like part of a bigger piece of a wall-looking set design, there’s a strong possibility that it won’t be part of the building in the final film.

Even more mysterious is the billboard with the chimp-human-hybird-looking drawings and the words “HUMAN NATION” painted on them. Is this a clue that the humans in hiding are forced to leave their mark in secret? Are the apes already starting to hunt down and round up the humans, like in the original Planet of the Apes? It’s an intriguing image, and only deepens the mystery surrounding the film.

Matt Reeves’ Let Me In proved that he can convincingly blend a high-concept story with grounded characters and real emotion, which we felt was one of the places Rise director Rupert Wyatt stumbled. Judging by the set photos and the detailed worlds of his past films, it looks like the next entry in this franchise will feature a fascinating lived-in world. Stay tuned for more details as they emerge.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes opens in theaters on May 23rd, 2014.

Source: Comic Book Movie