War for the Planet of the Apes.
The first two Apes movies in this trilogy have been outstanding, some of the best visual effects I’ve ever seen. Each one has a unique tone and feeling but they all manage to humanize apes in a way that I didn’t quite think was possible. With this movie, they’re finishing this original trilogy and I went in wondering, “Can they pull off a trifecta?”
At the end of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, fearless leader Caesar (Andy Serkis) defeated the rampaging and angry Koba, though humans can’t tell who is good or bad, so they now hunt down the apes in the Northern California forests. Our movie opens with an attack on Caesar’s camp, where tragedy strikes and Caesar goes on a journey to get vengeance on the Colonel (Woody Harrelson). Along the way, he picks up a young girl who is mute and needs protection (Amiah Miller).
This movie is incredible, capping off a trilogy that manages to wow with each installment, possibly one of the best trilogies in film history.
The reason it will be brought up most often is the visual effects. These effects are undoubtedly the best of the best, making you absolutely believe that these are real apes, with real emotions, on the screen. When Caesar stands face to face with Woody Harrelson, there is no doubt in your mind that they are really looking at each other. Andy Serkis deserves at least an Oscar nomination for his performance here.
There is an amount of emotion here that I wasn’t expecting. Character deaths are impactful, reunions uplifting. This movie covers the whole spectrum, in a way that feels fresh and new. It’s impressive that the visual effects are able to create and enhance these performances seamlessly.
Luckily the trailers don’t spoil the actual story here because it’s a compelling one, unpredictable and intense. There are plenty of big action sequences but just as many quiet character moments that give these apes an incredible amount of depth.
In addition to Serkis, we also get an interesting performance from Steve Zahn, who plays a new character called Bad Ape, who can also talk like Caesar. He’s a bit like a Dobby from Harry Potter, which might rub people the wrong way, but I found him to be just light-hearted enough to add levity when the movie gets a little dark.
Woody Harrelson shines as the villain here, a Colonel of a human regiment that seems intent on destroying apes. His motivation ultimately comes to light and it’s complicated, though the apes are always the heroes here.
My only complaint is that sometimes there are sequences where human characters don’t show any sort of level of intelligence. There are moments when the apes are following the humans, within eyesight, but they don’t notice. It’s just little moments that make you raise an eyebrow and you have to just roll with it.
Otherwise, this is a near perfect film.
This movie caps off a trilogy that is absolutely incredible, revolutionary even. Andy Serkis gives a nuanced and layered performance here that should get him an Oscar nomination. The action is thrilling, the soundtrack epic, and the story unpredictable. You need to see the first two movies first but this movie closes the trilogy perfectly and is one of the best movies of 2017 so far.