Thursday, 13 July 2017

'War for the Planet of the Apes': In a League of its Own

Big Screen Watch: The fact that these movies continue to be this good is astounding to me.

Despite being prequels to a well-known movie franchise, the recent Planet of the Apes films have had unprecedented success. Both critically and commercially. The third film chronicling the beginning of the saga 'War for the Planet of the Apes', takes place 5 years after the events of its predecessor, 'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes'. After being forced into conflict, Caesar and his people are struggling. In order to survive, and for the ape revolution to succeed, these smart apes must be smarter than ever, as the war for the planet wages on.

To be frank, 'War for the Planet of the Apes' is exactly what most have come to expect. The visuals throughout the movie are mindblowing. The attention to detail given to the apes & the environment is remarkable. The series continues to be one of the best-looking franchises of its time. The performances by Andy Serkis and company behind each ape are nothing short of breathtaking. Having the technology to capture said performances is extremely gratifying, as 'War for the Planet of the Apes' gives a legitimacy to a season otherwise known for less intelligent films.

Sigh. Yeah, this still hurts.

Having said that, the movie did not entirely thrill me. I spent most of the first half feeling underwhelmed by the film as it went on. I felt as though there were one too many moments that were either entirely predictable or simply uninspired. At certain points, it felt like the movie was taking the easy way out. I would see the film set up something conventional, hope for it to surprise me, only to be treated to a moment that feels cheap, rather than evoking a genuine emotional response.

While it wasn't without its disappointments, the movie did have an overall sense of inventiveness to it. The world continues to have new and interesting things that help it feel fleshed out. Caesar's ape society has a design to it and so many ideas that are not drawn attention to. 'War for the Planet of the Apes' follows in the footsteps of the best post-apocalyptic movies and simply lets the audience come to know the world as it is, rather than being spoonfed the updates.

"And here is where the Apes decided on a banana based economy."

It's also worth mentioning that this is a very dark film. Both in its lighting and its tone. There are images in the movie that are extremely uncomfortable to watch and have a significant amount of edge to them. The series has never shied away from brutality before, but here, the notion of "war" is not handled lightly. Much of the movie is spent showing the immense difficulty Caesar himself has as the leader in a war he never wanted to fight. To that end, there was a solemness to 'War for the Planet of the Apes', that was a reminder of why this series has such a special place in my heart.

Even at it's worst, 'War for the Planet of the Apes' is still leaps and bounds over its competition. Despite my qualms with the first half, the second half of the movie did deliver wholeheartedly. Even those issues I had I suspect will be less disdainful upon rewatching the film. On the whole, the movie is a well made, contemplative, and extraordinarily impressive picture. Although I didn't enjoy it quite as much as I wished to, it still very much deserves your attention at the cinema.

Rating: Big Screen Watch.

Here's the audio review for the movie, where we got into some of the movie's characters, and a perspective from Kyle Howard:

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