War for the Planet of the Apes (2017) – Matt Reeves

Matt Reeves followed up his turn on Dawn of the Planet of the Apes with War for the Planet of the Apes, the third film in the new series, which works to tie itself back into the original series, forming one big circle.

Andy Serkis dons the mo-cap suit again to bring Caesar, the chimp, to life. He’s grown into his role as leader, even as the simian flu continues to cause a mutation in humanity that robs them of their voices and regresses their mental state, a seemingly inescapable fate as ape ascends to the dominant form of life on the planet.

But these are all things that will play out through the course of the film.

As the film opens, humanity is waging a war on itself and on the apes, and The Colonel (Woody Harrelson) is a particular thorn in the apes’ side. The Colonel has a tie in to the cult we glimpse in Beneath the Planet of the Apes. In fact, Reeves does a lot to tie the films together whether through little nods or setups. For instance we get our first glimpse of an ape donning clothes, something all of them will be doing by the time they rule the planet.

But again, these are just little things that help fill out the story. The crux of which sees Ceasar trying to protect and keep his people safe, but when The Colonel sends a team in, it kills Ceasar’s wife and child and sends him on a mission of revenge.

And it’s only then that he discovers the cost not only to himself but to those he’s promised to protect.

The film was nominated for an Academy Award for its visual effects, and they truly are spectacular. But in the end, your brain still realizes that you’re looking at something created in a computer, and while the masks of the original films are a little dated, though the Tim Burton ones are exceptional, there is a realness to them that is lacking in these new films.

The motion capture and movements of the computer-generated images are fantastic and look beautiful, but they aren’t quite real. It’s not something that will eject me completely from the film but I’ll always be aware of it.

Beyond that, it’s a fantastic entry in the series, and I love how Serkis portrays Caesar. Everything ends pretty emotionally even as we see the fall of man continuing.

There’s a rumor of another film in the works, but I feel they could leave off here, and let it loop back round to the original film. What other story would they tell in this world? I mean as long as it’s done well, I’ll be there, but it would have to be something exceptional.

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