‘War for the Planet of the Apes’ is one of those rare films that not only surpasses its source material, it actually stands alone as one of the best ways to do a reboot. I’ve personally been impressed by this trilogy, the final entry is no different.
Andy Serkis commands the screen from the moment his titular character, Caesar, walks on screen until the screen fades to black. The motion capture is amazing. Like its two predecessors, the audience forgets they’re watching computer generated characters.
The film is visually stunning. The cinematographer Michael Seresin is amazing, he creates a stark neutral palette, which is as beautiful as it is threatening and foreboding. The beginning picks up in a wild misty forest, then transitions to a stark winter hell-scape, and finally into a green and blue spring time— representing the journey the characters take through the story.
Matt Reeves, the director of ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes‘ and ‘War of the Planet of the Apes’, has once again kept a firm focus on the apes, showcasing there rise to prominence and struggles for survival in this new dystopian world. This point of view is thought provoking. It says so much more about the probable consciousness of all living creatures as a whole, than if he had only chosen to focus mainly on human characters. He even found a way to tie in the classic movie themes like apes being slaves to the humans. Also, we learn the full scope of the effects of the Simian virus, and a lot of questions from the original Planet of the Apes of 1968, get answered. Quite a bold move considering parts of those movies from the early 1970’s were terrible. Kudos to Reeves.
The story itself is a powerful reminder of man’s inhumanity toward man. Even though the conflict with apes is front and center, it’s an allegory of what humanity does when it’s threatened. The humans in the story are anchored down by their own hubris and not willing to entertain the notion they could coexist with a perceived “other”. It’s what happens when fanaticism wins out over reason. We’ve seen such lessons played out in our own history; namely with colonialism and the atrocities that it brought to the world.
Another theme of the movie is Caesar being haunted by the events of the last movie, and his relationship with Koba. In this film, we now see Koba’s misguided followers instead following Woody Harrelson’s demented character, the Colonel.
Overall the film is a instant classic. The trilogy itself never missed a beat. With themes of hope versus despair, and the search for redemption or damnation, every character thinks they are doing the right thing. For a PG-13 movie it delves into deep waters. Life isn’t black and white, and neither should our art be. The viewer will leave the theater quite entertained and perhaps thinking about bigger questions. The film is definitely high on my list of recommendations to see this summer.
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