The Next Level: Our Review of ‘War For The Planet Of The Apes’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - July 13, 2017
The Next Level: Our Review of ‘War For The Planet Of The Apes’

It’s an easy thing to anticipate a certain degree of malaise when it comes to franchise filmmaking.  That’s why I’m all the happier when someone pulls up their boots straps and does something right.

It would be incredibly easy to dump War For The Planet Of The Apes into the blockbuster tent pole category but it is truly so much more as it bleeds the material for all the genuine emotion, humanity and pathos it can inside the framework of a movie with a nine figure budget.  It is the near perfect collision of art-house sensibilities placed on a massive scale and forces Andy Serkis; once a special effects afterthought into the discussion as one of the better modern actors working today.

Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his apes are forced into deadly conflict after deadly conflict against an army of humans spearheaded by a cold, vicious and ruthless Colonel (Woody Harrelson). As the apes suffer catastrophic losses, Caesar is overcome and truly at odds for the first time with his darker instincts and begins his own journey, one of pure unfiltered rage and revenge. The emotional rollercoaster for both warriors finally brings them face to face as Caesar and the Colonel are pitted against each other in a final conflict that will decide the fate of both their species and even the future for the entire planet.

If you’ll forgive the hyperbole for just a minute (this is the internet after all) War For The Planet Of The Apes is that rare piece of storytelling that gives us emotional closure on a universe but still leaves us hoping for more as it is an astonishing piece of filmmaking both in scale and scope but also in pathos and emotion as Andy Serkis just acts his heart out in this installment.

Already well versed in the lore of this universe, co-writer/director Matt Reeves lays it all on the table in this film with an effort that is both visually breathtaking and emotionally intense at the same time making sure that one is never sacrificed for the other.  It’s a world where the ravages of war are easily seen on both the faces of ape and man, both are fighting for their very survival and both are exhausted beyond belief and the narrative fleshes that out incredibly well from beginning to end.  It’s hard to believe that a film with a 140 minute running time doesn’t have an ounce of excess baggage but that is exactly the case as a strong script and a musical score from the incomparable Michael Giacchino wraps you up as a viewer and puts you on the horse right along with Caesar as he faces his ultimate fears and almost gives in to the dark almost animalistic parts of humanity that exist in him.

This truly is a film about the duality of man and it comes through so brilliantly thanks to Andy Serkis once again stepping into the motion-capture suit to inhabit the soul of Caesar.  This role has evolved into so much more than him just playing an ape and it has come to a point where the reflection of every value that humanity holds dear is now in the face on an ape, and a tired one at that who sees his people and his own loved ones fall in a conflict without purpose.  Serkis wears the tired world weary face of this all with such grace and ease that it is a marvel to watch beyond the visual effects that grafted to his body and easily deserves some consideration during the 2017 awards season (although I doubt he’d get it).  Woody Harrelson is effective opposite him playing the other side of the coin in this emotional battle for survival and the only genuine misstep the entire film takes is with an emotionally scarred ape simply known as ‘Bad Ape’ (voiced by Steve Zahn) as we already knew that the world had gone to hell and humanity itself was slipping away, we really didn’t embodied in a character that was borderline offensive.

With War For The Planet Of The Apes; writer/director Matt Reeves has vaulted himself into the rarified air of storytellers who can work with a nine figure budget and still tell a gripping and poignant story all at the same time.

This post was written by
David Voigt, has been a lover of cinema all his life and an actual underpaid critic for a solid 5 years covering everything that the city of Toronto has to offer. He was a content manager in video distribution industry before that and his love of all things cinema goes back to his first moments in awe looking up at the big screen. His 12 years of experience on the home entertainment side of the business have provided him with a unique view on what is worth spending your hard earned entertainment dollars on. Combine that with his unquestioned love of film, David should be your only stop to find out about the best in film, not only in Toronto, but worldwide.