Saturday, 16 December 2017

War For The Planet Of The Apes ★★★★★

When Rise of the Planet of the Apes came out back in 2011, I was a little skeptical. I’ve never been one for reboots or remakes, and the Planet of the Apes series has always had a special place in my heart. What can I say, I love an ape. Who doesn’t? In my experience, this sort of modern reboot is nothing but bad news and a kick in the balls to the original film. Flash forward 6 years, and I’m sat in the cinema watching War for the Planet of the Apes. I laugh. I cry. I cheer. I restrain myself from outright applauding the film.

Yes, War for the Planet of the Apes was incredible. Like the aforementioned Rise and 2014’s Dawn, the film is an unforgettably moving and complex spectacle – and, even as an old-school Planet of the Apes fan – I would consider this to be the entire saga’s finest hour. Those who’ve seen Rise and Dawn will know just how stunning these films are; rich in character development and depth, never resorting to in-your-face CGI for the sake of it. Michael Bay this is not. There’s more human drama here than you’ll find in a thousand Manchester By The Sea’s, despite the hero being a chimpanzee…Hell, Andy Serkis’ performance as Caesar is so damn remarkable that you’ll think you’re watching a classically trained chimp acting in front of your very eyes. 

Picking up two years after the end of Dawn, War follows our hero being forced into a deadly conflict with a ruthless colonel (Woody Harrelson) as the apes’ journey comes to an explosive end. Expect a powerful and complex story with themes of slavery, captivity and the psychological effects of war – and apes with guns. Any film that can pull off all of these things is pretty remarkable, right? If an ape pumping a shotgun can be delivered with such gritty moodiness, and not become a laughing stock, is very impressive. Rise pulled it off, Dawn pulled it off, and War certainly did.

At two and a half hours, War is the longest entry in the updated Apes saga; and despite a very slow-burning narrative, the film flies by in what feels like minutes. While on the surface not a huge amount happens, this film is incredibly deep. I watched – no, experienced the film twice on the big screen in the space of a week, and not once did my interest or attention dip. The entire cast are on phenomenal form, with special mention going to the great Karin Konoval who continues to act as the trilogy’s heart and soul in the form of gentle orangutan Maurice. Woody Harrelson is, unsurprisingly, excellent too. The narrative and visuals transport the viewer to this apey planet with great aplomb, and Michael Giacchino’s score is ear-porn of the most orgasmic quality. And the addition of Steve Zahn’s Bad Ape to the saga provides much-needed and very effective comic relief.

The only bad thing about this film is that it ends – and, indeed, that it brings one of the finest trilogies in years to a close. No more Caesar. No more Maurice. No more Rocket. No more Bad Ape. But this can’t be considered a criticism when the film delivers one of the most powerful and fitting climaxes in trilogy history. Move over, Lord of the Rings. You’re now not the only consistently great trilogy of recent years. It says a lot about the quality of a film when genuinely the only criticism is that it comes to an end and can’t entertain you all day. While it hasn’t been officially confirmed that this is the end for the saga – the ending is somewhat open – I hope we don’t go back. It’s such a perfect ending that to add even another frame would be to taint it. That’s why I’m so aggressively anti-Toy Story 4.

War for the Planet of the Apes is, and I don’t use this word lightly, a masterpiece. Every damn thing about it works. I can’t find one bad word to say against it. It just works on every single level. The visuals, the acting, the story, the music…It’s all perfect. As we get closer and closer to 2018, I am starting to consider my 2017 Top 10 – and I can guarantee the end of Caesar’s journey will surely make an appearance in the top end of the list. 

Sam Love

War For The Planet Of The Apes at CeX

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