War for the Planet of the Apes – Film Review by Fran Winston
Directed by: Matt Reeves
Starring: Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn, Amiah Miller, Karin Konoval, Judy Greer, Terry Notary
In cinemas July 11th
The posters for this movie scream “witness the end” and while this does indeed wrap up the POTA trilogy nicely it does also leave open the possibilities of another sequel so don’t rule that out just yet.
That aside this is a technically the final part of the Apes trilogy that began with Rise, continued with Dawn and now ends in War. Andy Serkis reprises the role of Casear, the leader of the apes. Two years on from the last movie he is now weary of war and he just wants his family and his fellow apes to be allowed to live in peace. However an army Colonel (Harrelson) has an axe to grind and is determined to wipe out the apes and reclaim the planet for humans.
I don’t want to give too many plot points away because there are numerous twists and turns in this movie literally right up to the final frame but suffice to say that it’s rather epic. If I were to review this in an academic manner I could point out the numerous references to classic movies such as The Great Escape, The Ten Commandments, Schindler’s List and The Outlaw Josey Wales to name just a few. I could also point out the numerous morally complex questions it raises. There are references to internment, racism, immigration and even a certain wall!
As it stands however I’m going to review this purely from an entertainment point of view and on that level it does its job. The apes are so realistic that you forget that they are CGI’d and Serkis is magnificent as Caesar. Harrelson proves a worthy foil as The Colonel and all of the cast do a brilliant job. Despite the dark subject matter there is a huge amount of humour in this often coming courtesy of “Bad Ape”, a new addition to the tribe. When he was initially introduced I found him to be a bit Jar Jar Binks but he really will grow on you.
There are sweeping settings that only serve to reinforce the scale of this story. This is also true of the special effects and big set pieces which are truly breathtaking. Although this is a complex story it never feels too heavy or laden down. Rather it will take you on an emotional roller-coaster and leave you with a lot to process.
This is probably one of the most emotionally charged blockbusters you will ever see. Rather than rely on spectacular effects and explosions the focus here is on telling a very poignant story that will strike a chord with most viewers given current and past world events.
A worthy conclusion to the trilogy this won’t disappoint fans and will manage to thrill even the most cynical cinemagoer on some level.