Sunday, July 16, 2017

War For The Planet Of The Apes

Year: 2017
Director: Matt Reeves
Cast: Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson. Steve Zahn, Karin Konoval, Amiah Miller, Terry Notary

Plot: When a ruthless army colonel and his men kill a large number of apes including Caesar's wife and son, Caesar vows revenge. However he soon finds out that vengeance has a large price.

Review: The events of Rise and Dawn have led to this film, where the apes must now fight for survival against an army of marines who will not stop until they have wiped out every ape they find. While Dawn focused more on apes than humans, this one is actually even more so, as Caesar's journey from leader to vengeful patriarch takes place.

In an attempt to save his kind, Caesar plans on moving his community to the desert, away from the marines currently hunting them. But his personal quest to take revenge after his wife and son are killed leads him down a dark path, one that may cost him more than the last film's events. Along the way, Caesar meets two individuals; a mute girl and a clever ape that will play a part before the film reaches its finale.

Director and co-writer Matt Reeves pulls it off again as he gives audiences a thoughtful and dramatic story about two species and their quest to survive; one peaceful, the other desperate. The story, more than anything, focuses on Caesar and his journey, culminating in a thrilling climax (which I'll admit was a bit over the top) that more or less caps off his story that began in Rise. Here, even more so than in the past two films, the apes are shown to be more human than the vengeful humans themselves. The colonel who leads the marines isn't as two dimensional as I had expected, although for the first half of the film he seemed very much so. Other than him and the mute girl, not much is explored of what's left of humanity.

Andy Serkis once again does an amazing job as Caesar, not having lost a single beat. Woody Harrelson is a perfect fit as the colonel, playing him as a brutal man, but not totally without reason. Credit also goes to Steve Zahn as Bad Ape, a talking monkey who assists Caesar and the young Amiah Miller as Nova, the mute girl.

If I have a complaint, it's a slight lack of tension in certain scenes. But despite its long running time at 140 minutes, War For The Planet Of The Apes scores many points in terms of plot, acting, CGI, cinematography and set design. Even Michael Giacchino, who turned in disappointing work in last week's Spider-man: Homecoming, comes good here with his great music score.

Needless to say, WFTPOTA is the sleeper hit of the year and a must watch. (8/10)

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