Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his apes are forced into a deadly conflict with an army of humans led by a ruthless colonel (Woody Harrelson). After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mythic quest to avenge his kind. As the journey finally brings them face to face, Caesar and the colonel are pitted against each other in an epic battle that will determine the fate of both of their species and the future of the planet. (1)
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Hello, Movie Buffs!
Counting the saga from the original 1968 version, War for the Planet of the Apes (2017) is the 9th Planet of the Apes film and the third in the most recent reboot. In 10 years after Rise of Planet of the Apes (2011), a simian virus has wiped out about 95% of the human race. Now it’s 5 years after Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) and the last two human factions are preparing for a final epic war against each other, while at the same time uniting against the apes. The apes, led by Caesar, wish to be left alone in the forest but the humans, focused on their destruction, force the apes to fight. After one particular attack and unimaginable losses, Caesar erupts in anger and wrestles with his darker side as he begins his own quest for vengeance, thus providing the foundation for the movie.
Director Matt Reeves (Let Me In, Cloverfield) returns from Dawn and clearly has a vision for continuing the saga. This film is by far more personal than the previous two films. The writers (Mark Bomback, Rick Jaffa, and Amanda Silver) and Reeves have created a story where you love the apes and hate the humans, where violence is a sad necessity. Large portions of the film have no spoken dialogue like in Dawn. Instead, we focus on Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his journey, and during these sections, the dialogue is not needed. From the beginning, we can see the pain in Caesars’ face and walk, which carries the tone and narrative more than any dialogue ever could. As we learned in the second film, Caesar starts speaking more but his words have purpose and meaning. He does not say what he does not mean and what he doesn’t say can easily be seen in his eyes.
Andy Serkis (Lord of the Rings) does one of his best performances ever. The ape mannerisms are now second nature to the severe emotions of guilt and anger that we see in this film. The evolution of his character is beautiful and hard to come by in most films. In Rise, we saw him go from the innocent child to cruelly-treated animal and in Dawn, he changes from to fair and peaceful leader to the regrettable warrior who now wars with himself for going against the ape code. Serkis holds nothing back in this film, this allows for the audience to connect with Caesar and what he is going through on a much deeper level. The rest of the cast is pretty good as well. Despite being the antagonist of the film, Woody Harrelson (Hunger Games) is brilliant as the psychopathic war lord. While Steve Zahn (Daddy Day Care) joins the crew as a comic relief ape, ‘Bad Ape’ who is reminiscent of Dobby (Harry Potter) or Jar Jar Binks (Star Wars).
The CGI of the film is breathtaking. The apes are so life like, even up close, that you almost forget that their humans in motion-capture suits, at least until you see Maurice (Karin Konoval) the Orangutan on a horse. The film has some action but rather than having an explosion go off every 5 minutes, the action is saved for when it is needed most; to prove the most impact. Just because the film says War for the Planet of the Apes does not mean that there is going to be all out battle scenes all the time. Some wars are fought from across tables and without weapons, this allows for the film to have a more solemn tone. It links human perception with the darker parts of human nature while the overall feel of the film ranges from heartbreaking to moving to suspenseful and then finally to inspiring. The opening scene stuns the audience with the realism of apes and severe violence that follows any war. However, the action scenes and the non-action scenes would not mean much if it were not for the music score by Michael Giacchino (Jurassic World). The music score compliments the beauty of the film and finishes Caesar’s saga appropriately. It improves the action scenes by bringing the audience to the edge of their seats and devotes emotion to the non-action scenes.
Overall, War for the Planet of the Apes (2017) is a worthy addition to an almost 50-year apes saga and there are no over-the-top action sequences but that does not deter from a very entertaining film. This is what happens when your main actor understands the kind of evolution that the character needs to go through in order to bring his chapter to a close while paving the way for a new one. I am not certain if there will be a 10th film added to the Planet of the Apes saga or not but I will say that it will be interesting to watch. War has heart and will stand the test of time, which is saying something in terms of other series reboots.
“I did not start this war. I offered you peace. I showed you mercy. But now you're here. To finish us off... for good.”
Worth Seeing: 4.5 of 5 star
Worth Buying: 4.5 of 5 stars
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Jurassic Park (1993)
Jurassic Park 2: Lost World (1997)
Jurassic Park 3 (2001)
Jurassic World (2015)
King Kong (2005)
Kong: Skull Island (2017)
Legend of Tarzan (2016)
Planet of the Apes (1968)
Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970)
Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971)
Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972)
Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973)
Planet of the Apes (2001) REBOOT
Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)
Cast & Crew
Directed by Matt Reeves
Writing Credits: Matt Reeves, Mark Bomback, and Pierre Boulle
Mark Bomback --- executive producer
Peter Chernin --- producer
Dylan Clark --- producer
Rick Jaffa --- producer
Mary McLaglen --- executive producer
Amanda Silver --- producer
Ryan Stafford --- co-producer
Music by Michael Giacchino
Cinematography by Michael Seresin
Film Editing by William Hoy
Production Design by James Chinlund
Woody Harrelson --- Colonel
Judy Greer --- Cornelia
Andy Serkis --- Caesar
Steve Zahn --- Bad Ape
Terry Notary --- Rocket
Max Lloyd-Jones --- Blue Eyes
Ty Olsson --- Rex
Amiah Miller --- Nova
Aleks Paunovic --- Winter
Gabriel Chavarria --- Preacher
Alessandro Juliani --- Spear
Devyn Dalton --- Cornelius
Mercedes de la Zerda --- Lang
Karin Konoval --- Maurice
Michael Adamthwaite --- Luca
Chad Rook --- Boyle
James Pizzinato --- Travis
Lauro Chartrand --- Look Out Ape
Sandy Robson --- Gunner
Dean Redman --- XO Stone
Yuri Zackoqv --- Hawk
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