Forget Star Wars, Spider-Man, Justice League, Wonder Woman or Transformers (seriously we all want to forget that one), the film I’ve been most looking forward to this year is War for the Planet of the Apes. Having already given us two epic movies in both Rise and Dawn, the people at Fox are aiming to score a hat-trick of successful movies, with this latest instalment looking as if it could be the best Planet of the Apes film yet (and that’s saying something when you include the original). Since leaving the cinema, I can gladly report that this film exceeds all expectations, with the cast and crew delivering what could very well be the movie of the year.
Before he goes off to helm The Batman solo flick, Matt Reeves returns to direct his second Planet of the Apes movie, giving us an epic piece of storytelling. Getting an emotional roller coaster of a tale, which is co-written by Reeves and Mark Bomback, this latest instalment is thoroughly thought provoking, giving us some interesting character development for Caesar and his fellow apes. In addition to giving a gripping narrative in and of itself, the creators also touch upon areas of the franchise’s mythos that we’ve not seen in the prequels yet, tying up a lot of loose ends in the process. The visual effects team also deserve a lot of praise, as despite both Rise and Dawn delivering a realistic look to these apes, technology seems to be getting better and better, with the resemblance in War being eerily uncanny.
Andy Serkis (Caesar) doesn’t always get enough praise as an actor due to these motion-capture roles, but in my opinion his talent is second to none. Having already given us two extraordinary performances in both Rise and Dawn, the actor goes above and beyond in this third chapter, with the raw emotion and passion being ever present in his facial mannerisms and delivery of lines. Accompanying Serkis on the ape side of this movie, we see the return of Karin Konoval, Terry Notary and Judy Greer as Maurice, Rocket and Cornelia respectfully, with Rise actor Ty Olsson returning to the series, this time as the traitorous gorilla Red. Despite these returnees impressing once more, it was the addition of Steve Zahn as Bad Ape that impresses most next to Serkis (ape wise), with the eccentric nature of this zoo chimpanzee showing a different side to these intelligent apes than we’ve seen so far.
Though the apes have gradually become the focal point of these movies, I have enjoyed seeing the interaction between ape and human. Having given us two likeable characters to play against Serkis‘ Caesar in Will (James Franco) and Malcolm (Jason Clarke), the creators decide to go in a different direction for War, giving us the deplorable Colonel (Woody Harrelson). Delivering one of his best performances to date, Harrelson sells the merciless nature of this soldier perfectly, with the cold, yet engaging interaction with Serkis leading to cinematic gold. Though the majority of the remaining humans are not much better than The Colonel, we do get one likeable addition in Amiah Miller, with the young actress playing a war orphan adopted into Caesar’s group by Maurice. Not only does Miller give an innocent look at the landscape of this war torn world, but she also provides an interesting look into the future of the human race.
War for the Planet of the Apes is nothing short of epic, being a thoroughly thought provoking movie. Expanding on the events of both Rise and Dawn, this third instalment in the prequel series gives us an emotional turning point, answering a lot of questions, whilst leaving room to further explore the history of this franchise.
(9.5 / 10)