Friday, July 14, 2017

War for the Planet of the Apes Review: Latest 'Apes' Film is A Rough But Fitting Conclusion

In recent years there have been several film franchises to return to the big screen and among them is none other than the Planet of the Apes. The sci-fi series made its come back to the world of film with the reboot Rise of the Planet of the Apes; and while I was not a fan of the film, the movie did bring success back to the franchise. The 2011 film managed to get a sequel in the form of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes which not only succeeded its predecessor but is among one of the best films in the series. Now the franchise returns to the big screen with War for the Planet of the Apes. Directed by Matt Reeves (the director of Dawn) War brings the new series to ahead as the new film will likely bring the franchise to a close (at least for the time being). Despite having to live up to its 2014 predecessor the latest installment has managed to garner positive feedback prior to its release-though that is not a guarantee that the film will exceed expectations (especially for this Adventurer). So with much riding on this summer blockbuster does War for the Planet of the Apes go out strong or does the latest installment get wiped out by high expectations?

War for the Planet of the Apes continues the story of Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his fellow apes. After the events of the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Caesar finds himself in a constant struggle with the humans as the war rages on between the two species. As Caesar seeks to lead his apes to new home the group is attacked by a man named known as the Colonel (Woody Harrelson) and his soldiers. Seeking revenge, Caesar travels with a small group of apes to find the Colonel, but what the group finds is the Colonel's deranged plan and a revelation that shakes the foundation of the planet.

When it comes storytelling Planet of the Apes, to me, has always relied on simplicity. Yet that changed when I saw Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. The 2014 film took the ideas of the franchise and gave them a sense of complexity. The film's plot was so well executed that a sequel would have quite a task ahead of it in order to match its predecessor, and that was precisely what happened with War For The Planet of the Apes. The story to War had a great deal to offer such as strong themes and a captivating narrative. Yet there was one thing that was holding the plot back and that was its pacing. Although the movie's quick narrative was engaging it also prevented the plot from exploring as well as expanding upon pivotal aspects. While it was a good call back to feature most of the story in one place, Caesar time in the soldiers' base brought the plot to a halt as it made made the movie's development to feel anticlimactic. Still even with this dilemma, there was still enough to the plot to make it a strong and fitting conclusion to the rebooted series.

When it comes to the matter of cast the new Apes movies have been able to flourish thanks to the character of Caesar. The central ape has made for a compelling lead and has given Andy Serkis one of his most captivating performances. When it comes to War Caesar remains to be a highlight for the movie as his direction kept the character refreshing while letting Serkis shine in his performance. When it came to the rest of the cast each character had a role to play and each got their time in the spotlight. Among the established cast were additional characters who managed to bring some color to the Apes alumni. This included the likes of Nova and Bad Ape (Steve Zahn), although Bad Ape could be excessive as a comedic relief character-but that is not to say that he did not serve his purpose. When it came to villainy Woody Harrelson certainly made for a convincing antagonist as the Colonel. The Colonel's motivation was effective and Harrelson gives one of his most dynamic performances as the harden villain. However, while he had some stellar moments, the character had very little development which led to his progression to feel lackluster and his presence to become underwhelming.

When it comes to technical elements the highlights to this trilogy has been the effects; particularly the motion capture. The effects of the Apes has showcased the best qualities of this cinematic element, and this did not change with the newest installment. The movie's effects not only relished in the aspect's high quality but it managed to refine it as the motion capture and design were best that they have ever been. Along with the definitive effects was the movie's solid cinematography which expressed the grittiness behind the film's tone. Continuing to give momentum to the technical attributes was the score by Michael Giacchino. The soundtrack to Dawn is among the Giacchino's best work and it was good to see this film's score to follow suit as the composition expressed the intensity, the adventure and the spectacle that made up this movie. Yet of all the standout elements you would think among them would be the action, but that was not the case. The film had its share of action packed sequences (the opening scene comes to mind) but this element ended up being rather subtle which was surprising given the film's main concept.

War for the Planet of the Apes is certainly a solid blockbuster, but I cannot say that the film is the strongest of its kind. What holds the film back is its execution in the likes of story and characters as both leave much to be desired. Yet despite its faults the film more than makes up for them thanks to its captivating narrative, fantastic lead and stellar sense of movie magic. Although this installment does not exceed it predecessor War for the Planet of the Apes manages to be an exciting and fitting movie to conclude this chapter in the franchise.

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