So far, we have had two Apes films with ‘Rise’ and ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’. Except for the fact that the titles should’ve been swapped (the rise comes after the dawn, right?), each film has been brilliant in their own way, having two different approaches yet still fitting together, flowing perfectly whilst also changing directors in between films. I love these Apes films having only seen the first original and the Tim Burton one (the less said about that the better) I didn’t really know what to expect from this resurrection of a franchise. But from the first one, I have been astounded by the acting, writing, CGI and the overall films. Now, if Matt Reeves can just do it again we may be witnessing one of the best trilogies ever put to the screen.
As I said, ‘War for the Planet of the Apes’ is directed by Matt Reeves and picks up 15 years after the first film. The Apes and the humans have been at war since the end of the second film and Caesear has become something of a legend to the soldiers who are trying to hunt him. The soldiers are being led by a mysterious colonel who is said to be ‘more than human’. Each side has suffered huge losses but both are fighting for the survival of their own races. That is all you really need to know, it was all I knew due to the marketing which I felt did an excellent job not giving too much away.
I’m going to do something different. I think I’ll start with the negatives because there are barely any and I just want to get them out of the way so I can talk about this absolute masterpiece of film making. The negatives I have come up with are tiny nit-picks that I have that I’m only saying to come across as at all balanced. In fact, they’re so irrelevant I’m just going to quickly bullet point them:
- The film probably should’ve been called ‘The Fight for’ or “The Battle of” rather than “War for” this isn’t really a war film
- Although the marketing was good in the sense it didn’t give much away, it sold a completely different film to the one I saw. This was great for me as the film turned out to be a beautiful surprise but I could see how that may put people off
- The film almost hits fast forward with the last 5 minutes. It’s like they realised they only had 5 minutes left and they needed to wrap it all up. Even though it was a satisfying and emotional end to this trilogy it does feel a tiny bit rushed.
- I wasn’t sure how the apes were communicating throughout the film. Sometimes it was through sign language then other times they seemed to be using grunting. A couple of times subtitles would come up and none of the apes had moved.
Where to start… I guess with one of the main draws of these films, the CGI. I have no words to describe how incredible the visual effects are in this film. The apes look real. They genuinely look like real apes not once did I find myself thinking ‘that’s a CGI ape’ unless I was thinking ‘how is that a CGI ape’. When you get close ups of the Maurice or Caesar sometimes I found myself contemplating whether it was an actor in costume. It utterly baffles me that any film can have bad CGI when this can be accomplished. How is it possible for does Robert Downey Jr to still look like a floating head above an Iron Man suit. This film was made for $100 million less than ‘Captain America Civil War’ (according to google) and I can think of more than a couple of hairy CGI moments in that film so where did that $100 million go? (probably RDJ’s wages). It’s not just the apes as well, every other time CGI is utilised it is flawless.
Andy Serkis is immense as you would expect. The subtle differences between each of the films he gives to Caesar are enough on their own. I could watch him monologuing for hours on end. Unfortunately, he won’t get an Oscar but man does he deserve it and I really hope that he gets some recognition eventually. Another actor who is amazing as an ape is Timothy Zahn, he plays a character used for comedic relief and upon hearing that you may roll your eyes (getting flashbacks to Jar Jar) but he is amazing. Every comedic moment had me laughing and brought some needed light to a beautifully bleak world.
Woody Harrelson plays the main human in the film. He plays the colonel who is known for his brutality and you feel that. I haven’t been so intimidated by a character for a while. There are shots where you just see his silhouette and every hair on my body was on end. You really get the feeling that this guy has become more than human to his soldiers, the apes and the audience. Which also comes full circle at the end but that lives within spoiler territory. Amiah Miller plays a young girl that is picked up by Maurice whilst he, Caesar and some other apes are on the lookout for some soldiers. She is so good in the film, she doesn’t have many credits to her name but it does not show. She also conveys a lot of emotion with certain limitations her character has and is also a nice beacon of light and hope.
Along with the incredible CGI, the apes are some of the best characters put to film this year. Caesar has so many layers to him which just makes you feel for and sympathise with him so much (yes, I sympathise with an ape). This is the true beauty of this film, the characters. All this madness is going on but more tension and excitement is found through conversations. Although this film was maybe miss sold as a war movie, what we got (in my opinion) is far superior. The film becomes more of a quiet character study of this ape who we all know and love. Of course, there are action scenes which are executed to perfection but it’s the quieter moments that mean more, that really hit you right in the feelings.
We have been on such an incredible journey with Caesar over three films and 15 years (his time). We’ve been with him through joy and despair. We’ve felt everything he has felt and again we are taken through an emotional rollercoaster with him. I care about Caesar like he was my best friend, I feel like I know him. That’s the extent not only this film but the entire franchise has gotten to. It isn’t just Caesar, I felt as if I knew every ape on the screen every character makes an impact where they have an hour or a minute of screen time. One of the best things about the ‘Apes’ franchise is the moral dilemma they put their audience in. You understand every single person’s decisions and actions throughout the films and every one of them is so meticulously thought out that there is multiple for and against arguments for every single one of them. Although these films get praise I don’t think they are heralded as the utter masterpieces they are.
Something that must be good in a film where most of its characters talk using sign language or other forms of communication other than speech is the sound of the film. I’m not usually a score guy, I think that the best score is one that you don’t notice. Damn Giacchino’s score is good. He manages to blend multiple styles throughout including some hints of the score from the original which I very much liked. A great score paired with ear drum shatteringly good sound design makes for an awesome all-round composition of sound.
I feel that this is a great conclusion to a terrific franchise. It should 100% be left alone now. I don’t want to see any more films, which is a weird feeling coming out of a film that I adored and thinking ‘yeah I’m good’ but it was such a satisfying ending that I don’t need anymore. I am fearful that the reputation of these great films would be tarnished if a further story was attempted. Maybe in 10 years or so but for now let’s just bask in the glory of these three great films.
This is my favourite film of the year. God, it’s so good. It hurts my soul that it isn’t doing as well as it should be at the box office. This is a film that needs to be experienced on a big of a screen as possible to capture the true scope of this great film. This film is brilliant, moving, satisfying, tense, exciting, funny, gripping, dark and so many more adjectives that I can’t think of right now it’s absolutely a…