Dawn of the Planet of the Apes' final scene was directed over Skype

The Serkis-starring summer simian spectacular saw several scenes supervised via Skype, director Matt Reeves has said. Plus CNET reveals whether "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" is worth checking out.

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The 'high-five, down-low, too slow' snub would plunge the ape community into war. 20th Century Fox

Dawn of the Planet of the VoIPs (Apes) director Matt Reeves says he directed some scenes of the Andy Serkis-starring blockbuster over Skype, including the film's final moments.

Speaking to Slashfilm, Reeves said, "When I realised that that was not the right ending, I went to [effects company] Weta and I said, okay, so we gotta do something different."

With a motion-capture actor in London visible through a plasma monitor, Reeves directed the actions that round off the $170 million summer flick. "I talked him through what was going on in that last sequence," Reeves is quoted as saying. "And we basically did it over Skype."

Out now in the US and Australia (and released in the UK on 17 July), "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" continues the story of 2011's "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," which charted the origins of the hyper-intelligent tree-swingers that put Charlton Heston through the wringer in the 1968 sci-fi classic.

As well as the final scene, Reeves says that several other moments were re-shot using Skype, including some that involved on-screen humans Jason Clarke and Keri Russell acting over the online video-chat software to motion-capture professional Andy Serkis. "It's crazy what you can do," Reeves, who previously directed "Cloverfield," is quoted as saying.

Is the film any good?

Happily, yes. CNET was present at a media screening of "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" in London, and can confirm that the latest Apes outing packs more drama and emotion than you'd think possible from a movie that relies so heavily on CGI and motion-capture, and -- as we now know -- had some of its most crucial scenes directed over a Web connection.

Motion-actor Andy Serkis, best known for playing Gollum in "Lord of the Rings" and the titular ape in "King Kong," does an astonishing job with simian chief Caesar, while the FX team beavering away behind the scenes fill the ape chief's face with nuance. From natural authority to the wearing pressure of keeping his tribe out of conflict with the nearby humans, all of Caesar's emotions are perfectly readable on his CGI brow.

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Caesar's brooding advisor Koba steals the show. 20th Century Fox

While Serkis is on top form, it's Toby Kebbell's rage-fuelled bonobo Koba who steals the show however. With a grim, sloping jaw and an unpredictable, twitching strength, Koba is in the running for best baddie of 2014, playing his devious part in an ambitious story that has more in common with Shakespeare than the schlocky "of the Apes" movies of yesteryear.

It's a lengthy endeavour at 130 minutes, and it's a real shame that an otherwise progressive, high-tech movie doesn't seem concerned with creating any interesting female characters (on either the ape or human side), but this is still a fascinating film. It's a worthy successor to 2011's "Rise" prequel and -- like the surprising "Edge of Tomorrow" -- a summer blockbuster that refuses to follow convention. Well worth a watch.

About the author

Luke Westaway is a senior editor at CNET and writer/ presenter of Adventures in Tech, a thrilling gadget show produced in our London office. Luke's focus is on keeping you in the loop with a mix of video, features, expert opinion and analysis.

 

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