20th Century Fox has officially begun its marketing push for summer 2017’s War for the Planet of the Apes, the next installment in the rebooted Planet of the Apes franchise – as well as the second Apes movie co-written and directed by Matt Reeves, after Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Also returning for the new Planet of the Apes movie is Andy Serkis in his acclaimed motion-capture role as Caesar: the (leader) ape who has turned against the very humans that he once lived amongst, now that humanity and ape-kind are at war with one another – and both struggling to survive.
The first trailer for War for the Planet of the Apes paints a rather grim picture of life in the Planet of the Apes universe by the time the film picks up – one where humans and apes are now actively trying to kill one another, be it by stealthy assassination or (in the case of the apes) throwing spears and/or shooting arrows at their enemies. Although Caesar himself appears to be a darker place than he was in the last two Planet of the Apes movies, Reeves has indicated that the film itself might actually be funnier as a whole than either Dawn or Rise of the Planet of the Apes before it.
20th Century Fox recently held a press event where the studio showed off trailers and/or footage for several of its most buzzed-about 2017 releases – including, Ridley Scott’s Alien: Covenant, Hugh Jackman’s X-Men movie swan song Logan and of course, War for the Planet of the Apes. At the event, Reeves said that although the new Planet of the Apes movie is a proper “war film” like its trailer(s) suggest, it will also have its fair share of humor. Here is the exact quote on the matter from Reeves, per Variety:
“The movie has heightened everything and we have a tremendous amount of humor, which you haven’t had in either of the previous films.”
Neither Rise nor Dawn of the Planet of the Apes has much in the way of comedy, so it shouldn’t be all that difficult for War to be “funnier” than its predecessors as a result. One of the characters that Reeves said will bring more levity to the proceedings in War for the Planet of the Apes is “Bad Ape” – a chimp who is rescued from a zoo and played via mo-cap performance by Steven Zahn. Zahn has already promised in interviews past that his character’s funnier antics won’t feel out of place in the film either, having explained that “Bad Ape” simply “comes off a little bit more humorous,” after years of being in captivity.
Some moments of humor from “Bad Ape” could help to offset the more dramatic and intense elements of War of the Planet of the Apes, thus preventing the movie from being overly gritty and dour for its own sake. Blockbusters such as Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens and Captain America: Civil War – to use two recent examples – have successfully found ways to integrate humor organically into their darker plot beats, through the interactions between different characters. If the new Planet of the Apes film can manage the same, then it may only help rather than hinder the film’s storytelling approach, as a whole.