With Reporting by Josh Horowitz
From the very first scene of the film, "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" makes one thing very clear: This movie belongs to the apes.
Following an opening credits sequence inspired by the closing credits of "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," the first shot of "Dawn" is a long, lingering look at Caesar, the genetically-modified ape at the heart of the franchise. And to hear actor Andy Serkis tell it, there was no better or more important way to begin the film.
"[Director Matt Reeves] was very enamored with what Rupert Wyatt had created on 'Rise,' particularly the emotionality of Caesar," Serkis told MTV News. "That's why he wanted to make a Caesar-centric movie, an emotional journey seen through the eyes of Caesar. That's why it makes total sense to open on this ape, ten years later, now leading a community and trying to create the boundaries and laws and structure of that community, knowing that humanity has all but faded away."
Of course, humanity isn't completely eradicated when "Dawn" begins. There's a small pocket of civilization still struggling to survive in San Francisco, just south of the apes' forest community. When the two come into contact via a violent inciting incident, Caesar finds himself torn between two worlds.
"Humanity was a huge part of his life," Serkis said. "He has to wrangle with [the return of humans], as well as keeping control of the apes, but listening to them. He's a very empathetic character."
"Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" is in theaters now.