Film Critic and Writer for ComiConverse.com, the Founder and co-host of the official Nerdcast Network Podcast
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Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) surprised many with an original story, great performances and solid direction; channeling elements of the prior titles with flair. Years have passed and 2017 brings us the trilogy's end 'War for the Planet of the Apes'. But does the trilogy end on a high note? Find out, as Jordan Samuel reviews the final highly anticipated chapter.
Film Review: War for the Planet of the Apes
Two years after the events of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Caesar, and his apes have been embroiled in a war against humans. As the ape population decreases, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts to avenge his fallen companions. The encounter with the apes and humans puts them into the ultimate confrontation, to determine the fate of the Earth.
Charlton Heston’s Planet of the Apes (1968) started a renowned franchise and it is held in special regard, due to the heavy emphasis on race and animal rights. It has spawned various iterations with middling results, including a terrible remake that almost killed the modified apes' chance for a solid revival in Hollywood.
Planet of the Apes' long history hasn’t been perfect, as some sequels failed to receive the critical acclaim the original earned, but the reboot Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) brought fresh air into the franchise.
Matt Reeves (Cloverfield) expanded upon the groundbreaking series, with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014), bringing a darker tone and developing the key ape characters to almost human levels. Andy Serkis, the motion capture king, brought Caesar to life; becoming an iconic character throughout the trilogy's run-time.
Critics have mostly adored these films, due to their high-tech effects and loveable ape characters, along with the theme of man’s disrespect for animals.
All eyes are now on the highly anticipated sequel, War for the Planet of the Apes (2017) to succeed in bringing a conclusion to the trilogy. But in the era of mediocre final outings, can this final chapter have an everlasting impact?
War for the Planet of the Apes (2017) is, without doubt, the best film in a fantastic trilogy, with the most emotional and grounded story conclusion put on screen since The Return of the King (2003). The film closes loose ends and explains motivations developed throughout the series, with the stakes at an all-time high.
Matt Reeves ups the ante with all-out war between apes and humans, with a larger emphasizes on developing Andy Serkis’s Caesar into a powerful war leader. From the film's introduction, we are hit with the darkest tone ever seen in the Planet of the Apes franchise; one-which sets up audiences for a thrilling experience, filled with immense performances.
Reeves provides a hard-hitting war movie, as everything comes down to this one moment for both species. He gives a good balance of screen-time for both humans and apes, focusing on their differed opinions with the needed heart.
Not relying on mindless action, War for the Planet of the Apes uses each sequence within the 2-hour run-time for character development; propelling the story forward. This is something rarely seen in big-budget summer blockbusters and the audience will surely appreciate the story's depth.
Focusing on racism and discrimination between the humans and their genetically modified creations, the film is filled with emotional highly moments. Matt Reeves does not scale back on controversial topics, thus making the whole war come across as authentic.
War for the Planet of the Apes as a story is similar to Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973), but infused with new ideas which are fleshed out to a far greater degree. Reeves and Mark Bomback bring us back to the desolate world we saw after Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014), as ape populations have been reduced due to human intervention.
While being the darkest iteration in a long-running franchise, War for the Planet of the Apes is also a story whose beats are unexpected and one that does not stray away from giving the perfect sendoff to the Caesar (Andy Serkis) storyline.
Matt Reeves does not retreat too deeply into previous outings, instead, giving us a standalone adventure that won’t be discouraging for series newcomers.
Intensity and passion are woven into each scene and bit of dialogue. The film connects with the audience, especially with the dynamic between the ape and human leaders. the director brings together some emotional moments in War for the Planet of the Apes, that somehow top the magical first two instalments. Everywhere the stakes are raised. It is high drama.
Andy Serkis (The Lord of the Rings) is Caesar, the proud and wise intelligent chimpanzee that leads a tribe of enhanced apes. This time around being enraged with the treatment his apes are facing from The Colonel (Woody Harrelson). It is not in a good point in his life. After the burning of their home and militarily invasions, Caesar comes to realize that the tension will rise to another level entirely.
Serkis provides some more fascinatingly emotional motion-capture in the role, going to great lengths in making his character come to life. Its unlike anything that’s been seen before in the film industry. He puts effort into every aspect, including a powerful and booming voice for the part, which truly brings the ape leader into focus. Its a huge part of sharing in an emotional swan-song for the franchise.
I think that Andy Serkis deserves more awards for this portrayal of this now iconic character. We can only hope.
Franchise newcomer Woody Harrelson (The Hunger Games) plays the villainous human and soldier and obsessed leader 'The Colonel'. His aim is to defend the humans from destruction. He despises apes as they are man's creation and need to be dealt with before they take over the world and limit the survival of the now deeply suffering humans. Matt Reeves does a good job in showcasing these motivations, creating the best new villain in decades with a grounded but easy to understand narrative.
Woody Harrelson has some terrifying sequences, which work in contrast with the bravery of Caesar.
General audiences will dislike the character's mean spirit from the beginning of the film, making it hard to know who to root for. Harrelson delivers an unforgettable villain; one who doesn’t fail in threatening everything that the apes stand for.
This series is known for detailed and highly original action, and that is continued in War for the Planet of the Apes; topping everything else that has come before in the trilogy. Beautiful cinematography adds to that fact. The film looks outstanding and could be the best I’ve seen all year.
War for the Planet of the Apes (2017) is a grand conclusion to the best trilogy in over a decade, balancing strong themes with fantastic results. It is helped by a director who isn't scared to change-up the formula. Matt Reeves gives us his best film yet.
See it. See it soon.
War for the Planet of the Apes (2017) is a grand conclusion to the best trilogy in over a decade, balancing strong themes with fantastic results. It is helped by a director who isn afraid to change-up the formula. Matt Reeves gives us his best film yet.