A thrilling epic in 'War for the Planet of the Apes'

Alain Brian
Juin 26, 2017

If War occasionally lapses into mawkish, melodramatic moments it doesn't need (or that Reeves' and Mark Bomback's script can't fully support-apparently apes can be as corny as humans), War more than makes up for it with sequences of such eye-candy spectacle you won't cry foul.

Now, Reeves has returned behind the camera for War for the Planet of the Apes, a film that is not only one of the most significant blockbusters of the decade, but the concluding chapter in what will be regarded as one of the all-time greatest film trilogies.

War For The Planet Of The Apes will not be the end of the Planet Of The Apes franchise. Already a Lincolnesque figure in the previous film, with little in common with his Roman namesake, he has now become a sage, tired and graying fellow who, due to a renewed human threat, must here transform into a new Moses who will lead his flock from their Edenic Muir Woods sanctuary to a new Promised Land.

But make no mistake: Despite its simple story, War for the Planet of the Apes is not a regular summer blockbuster.

War for the Planet of the Apes begins with a bang, quite literally, as gunfire and explosions echo through the woods in a battle that sees the soldiers and apes evenly matched with each other. There are no human beings like that in War For the Planet of the Apes.

Those "damn dirty apes" of old are no more. They're never recognized as equals - "donkey" has been painted on their back, which is exactly how they're always referred to by the humans.

Caesar, in contrast, retains his humanity, as it were, or what we humans would recognize as "the better angels of our nature", as President Abraham Lincoln once said.

Reeves stages some of the most nail-biting action sequences of the summer, from the laser-lit darkness of The Colonel's commando raid to the intense final showdown between Caesar's crew and the human forces.

And below, we've got an exclusive image from Matt Reeves' upcoming threequel, the reboot trilogy closer that sees noble Caesar fight battles within his heart - his desire for vengeance conflicts with his quest for peace - and across post-apocalyptic landscapes as he leads his ape army against Woody Harrelson's callous human Colonel.

Someone give Andy Serkis an Oscar. The other is a human girl (Amiah Miller) who has suffered a mutated version of Simian Flu that leaves its victims unable to talk. And then there is Bad Ape (Steve Zahn), a chimpanzee who was never part of Caesar's group, but who can nevertheless speak, and who seems to be living proof that the virus is taking hold across the world.

They all make their way to a military compound on the border of California, where they anticipate more troops are coming to reinforce the base camp where The Colonel has his soldiers, each of them given an alpha and omega brand, the same one that their leader has emblazoned on the American flag. But it's also reflective of today's America, crumbling under its own attempt to maintain superiority over those who won't conform rather than cooperating to survive in a world that will work for everyone. The Apes saga began, of course, in 1968 with Planet of the Apes, which starred Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall and Kim Hunter. This sets up an incredible conclusion that belongs in the same vein of The Great Escape or The Bridge on the River Kwai. Aided by Michael Giacchino's grief-stricken, imposing score (an instant classic that advances on-screen emotions rather than prescribing them), War highlights the worth of dignity, loyalty, goodwill, and sacrifice by imagining a world that almost lacks it all in the human race.

Thanks to the positively mind-blowing visual effects by WETA Workshop, there's emotion in every scene as the you forget these apes are digital creations brought to life with computers and motion-capture performance technology.

War For The Planet Of The Apes is out in United Kingdom cinemas on the 11th July. Though some audiences lament the lack of originality in an industry that loves to sequelize and remake everything, War for the Planet of the Apes stands as a shining example of the kind of filmmaking magic that can happen by using something familiar as inspiration to create something wholly remarkable. Telling that story naturally and effectively was a challenge, but they managed to pull it off.

War picks up two years after the events of Dawn. As to whether Caesar meets the same fate that Wolverine does in Logan, you'll have to watch this astounding and moving film to find out for yourself.

The film opens in wide theatrical release on Friday, July 14.

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