War for the Planet of the Apes – Review

Andy Serkis as Caesar in War for the Planet of the Apes – Courtesy of 20th Century Fox.

Few trilogies ever really pan out in a fashion that has each successive film become increasingly better; well, it does here.

War for the Planet of the Apes continues the story of Caesar and the dilapidated world of humanity that has now almost entirely fallen apart.

War for the Planet of the Apes stretches it arms beyond the trees; this film is not about the one-sided battle between good and evil, right or wrong, in fact, this story isn’t really about man versus ape – instead it focuses on the conflicting similarities we have with one another, from morals to our self-perceived version of righteousness. These themes are shown in both man and ape, and Director Matt Reeves attempts to signal that neither man nor ape is right or wrong in the paths they choose to take. Both man and ape are attempting to save their species and both justify their actions as necessary for their preservation, mirroring many scenarios that we see throughout history. We also get transformations of culture throughout the film, as man attempts to control nature they inevitably begin to turn into beasts, and as the apes begin to fully understand their “humanity”, they begin to take hold of humanity’s worst traits.

Matt Reeves has achieved what few directors could by creating a trilogy that gets consistently better as it progresses. I have to give praise to Andy Serkis and the team that handled the apes performance capture, these performances are far more convincing than what we see in many human orientated films. Serkis adds such subtle layers of emotion in Caesar that you almost forget that you aren’t seeing a real ape at times. We also get a cold and merciless performance from Woody Harrelson as the villain, his character is simple in his views and ideologies yet unpredictable in his actions; at any moment it feels like he will turn and kill without pause or remorse.

The CGI in this film is some of the best I’ve ever seen in years, from the skin and hair textures to the fluid movements of the apes, this film has an extreme attention to detail in its visual department, there’s no doubt it will be nominated for an Oscar. The cinematography throughout this film was cold, bleak, and offered beautiful panning and landscape shots throughout. You really get a sense of a ruined world reclaimed by nature, and the tension driven chase scenes are all the more grand with Reeves behind the camera. The editing for both the action sequences and closer intimate dialogue scenes were all handled with care as you get a fluid enough switch from action to dialogue throughout and only rarely can you feel a distinct change of pace. While there were spots where a change of characters could have been added to break up the lengthy time spent on Caesar, it doesn’t affect the pacing enough for it to be a significant gripe. There are however some story decisions that were a little beyond the realm of coincidence and believability, these took me out of the film for just a moment, but I was taken back in shortly after. Lastly the soundtrack for this film was absolutely fantastic; Michael Giacchino adds a distinct level of tension and style to the soundtrack that makes the films main theme feel like an 80’s classic that you could have heard from a Spielberg film – further providing the film with the backing to conclude it as a memorable and respected film trilogy.

It is rare when a rebooted film franchise roars back to life and shatters expectations, the lengths that director Matt Reeves has taken to ensure he gets a pure story is evident, I give out respects to both Matt Reeves and 20th Century Fox for working to create films that care for its characters and story. In my opinion, Reeves has created the best film trilogy since Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. War for the Planet of the Apes offers more than just thrills; it offers you characters and a story with real significance and stakes. Breath-taking visuals, emotionally entrenched performances, and an intimately strung storyline that finishes off this sensational trilogy – this is blockbuster film-making at its absolute best.

9.2/10

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