Saturday, July 15, 2017

War for the Planet of the Apes

Plot: After the epidemic, the Colonel (Woody Harrelson) is hunting down Caesar (Andy Serkis via motion capture) and the smart apes. The Colonel is trying to contain the virus by killing the humans that get it, and that means another army unit is coming to stop him. Caesar is the leader of many apes living in the woods. The Colonel raid their home and kills Caesar's wife & son. There are three parts to the movie, the woodlands home that gets attacked, Caesar's journey to the army camp, and the prison escape. If you have read the title to the movie, then you know how it ends.
Here are links to my reviews of the first two movies in the series, Dawn and Rise  [imdb]    [photos]

Review: A stylish film with great visuals and a story told primarily visually.

The best part is the operatic sweep. Civilizations at stake which will either rise or fall. The visuals are operatic too with apes with machineguns on horseback, and the martial assemblies at the army base. While the film is titled War for the Planet of the Apes, actually there is a lot of talking, and not so much war.

Turnoffs were too much time staring at monkey faces and hairy monkey bodies. The monkey CGI is great and I praised it in my reviews of the other movies, but now it is a little boring. Do I really need to see a monkey face blown up three stories tall? Most of the apes spoke in monkey language or in sign language so we are always reading subtitles -- this is ok, but it is a lost opportunity for better acting. I liked the character of Bad Ape for that reason: he wore clothes and used modern language.

I liked the Nova subplot, but when reflecting back on it, I see it  as a plot device to make the apes more sympathetic. I liked introducing Nova from the original movie as a girl.

A weaknesses is that the film has to fit into the legend from the other movies, meaning this is the last gasp of humans and the rest need to be living like cavepeople without language. In the second movie, I thought it was clever that the same virus that killed most of the humans also made the apes smart, but having that same virus also making the human survivors lose their minds years later seemed silly. (I suppose it is good not to spend too much time on Sci-Fi details, but I would have liked something more clever.)

Cast: Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson

Directed by:
Matt Reeves

Written by:
Matt Reeves and Mark Bomback

The Music:
Effective and spare soundtrack by Michael Giacchino. I liked Apes Together Strong

The Visuals:
There are some grand visuals like the Colonel shaving his head while he addressed the troops, and all the acting in the rain. The apes are well realized. I still like the apes on horseback

2.5 stars: I liked it while I was watching it; It seemed a little hollow upon later reflection. 

More: Here is Andy Serkis in his motion capture gear with director Reeves in front.




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