Saturday, 15 July 2017
#56 WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES
Starring Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Terry Notary, Karin Konoval, Michael Adamthwaite, Amiah Miller and Steve Zahn. Written by Mark Bomback and Matt Reeves. Directed by Matt Reeves. Budget $150 million. Running time 140 minutes. Cert 12A.
Another simply superb summer blockbuster brings the new 're-imagined' Planet of the Apes trilogy to a meaty, satisfying and dramatic ending. Featuring another exceptional performance from Andy Serkis and what is simply the most staggeringly impressive, natural-looking special effects you've ever seen. Seriously, if you thought the ape effects were good in the first two films, Rise and Dawn, then you ain't seen nothing yet! You will marvel at all realistic these apes look.
The story takes place five or so years after the previous film where we learn that Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his ever-growing family of intelligent apes are being hunted to extinct by a group of soldiers called the Alpha-Omega from 'up North' who are on the revenge trail following the events of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. All Caesar wants to do is live away from humans in peace and quiet, but sadly the humans lead by The Colonel (Woody Harrelson) have other ideas. Following a brutal night-time assault on the secret base of the Apes, Caesar heads out for brutal, bloody revenge with Maurice, Luca and Rocket along for the ride and some company. It isn't long before our band of bare-back riding apes have adopted a mute young girl who they name Nova (Amiah Miller) and a self-speaking-taught ape (Steve Zahn) there mainly to offer light comedy moments to an otherwise relentlessly sombre and serious movie. The ever-growing band of Ape warriors finally track down The Colonel to his mountain lair, although not in the way that Caesar intended and we discover the War of the title is more than just a conflict between humans and apes...
I have to say that when the first of this trilogy first came out in 2011 I wasn't expecting it to be any good, the memories and mental scarring of the horrific Tim Burton abomination starring Marky, Mark Walhberg from 2001 still seemed too fresh and yet that 2011 film proved to be a stunning re-invention that totally kick started this staggering franchise. I was blown away by Serkis as Caesar and over the three films, I've thoroughly enjoyed watching his character, mature and age, it's not often you get to see that across three films. Similarly how delightful to know that in 6 months time I'll be able to sit down and watch all three films back-to-back and enjoy a solid 8 hours of drama.
This film does an amazing job of also subtly referencing the original 1968 classic original Planet of the Apes movie starring Charlton Heston with several brilliant nods.
With a solid cast, a tight script and some excellent action this provided a deeply satisfying and powerful conclusion to the trilogy. Hats off to Matt Reeves for delivering such a superb film and to Andy Serkis who brings such a powerful and believable performance.