The Art of the films Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Rise of the Planet of the Apes
The Art of the Films: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a stunning look behind the camera of these two films. This book offers a look at the concept art and behind the sense photographs, giving a detailed look at the making of these films. With a forward by director Matt Reeves, the book presents an astonishing look into the work that went into making the Apes movies, and the multiple disciplines required.
Written by Journalist Matt Hurwitz the chronicling of the production is both easy and entertaining to read. Too often, these types of books read like dry presentations with little attention to the context of the material presented. Here the narratives meant to display and highlight the intensive labor allowed me to sail through the pages. The book is divided into three sections, the first being Rise of the Planet of the Apes, followed by a bridge about the Simian Flu, and then the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.
In the first section of the book, Hurwitz highlights the importance of developing a way to use new motion capture technologies to bring the film to life. I was at first disappointed this topic was discussed as briefly as it was, but only at first, rest assured the topic is an ever present theme. The narrative walks us through the construction of Gen Sys, and the development and growth of Caesar, all blending concept art and original production photographs. My favorite part of this section of the book is the highlight of the work of Andy Serkis who provided the motion capture performance for Caesar. In particular the book talks about how Serkis needed to find a way to display the physical manifestations of complex emotions through a face that was not his own. It’s a performance discipline I have the utmost respect for, and thoroughly impresses me.
The Simian Flu & You is the shortest section of the book, covering all of two pages. This section, however brief, fills in a few gaps glossed over in the film Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, but expanded upon in the prequel novel Firestorm. It is a fun section for those that are fans of info graphics, which I am.
The making of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is the most in-depth half of the book, detailing the major locations, sets, and characters of the film and their development. This is where the breaks are applied. The detail presented is so thorough it feels like working through the film production itself, rather than just reading about it. I found myself turning back the pages to re-read sections after examining the production artwork. Honestly, after reading this I feel as though I could have been there during the production that is how good this is. Anyone that is a fan of film, and is interested in their production should love this book.
Accompanying the art book is the official film novelization. Film novelizations can be dreadful. Authors failing to fill in partially developed characters, relying on a reader that had fully formed concepts of the universe, create books that are hardly worth the paper they are printed on. This novelization is not among those. Written by Alex Irvine, the novel fleshes out the characters in a way the film cannot, offering a more nuanced look at the apes that feel human. Some moments of the film illustrated in this book feel much more vibrant, the characters more tangible. I was beyond pleased to read this book, and I feel it could very easily stand on its own for anyone that has not seen the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes film.