Thursday, July 20, 2017

War for the Planet of the Apes

★★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

I'll admit, I didn't want to see any of the Planet of the Apes films at first. They never managed to interest me.

However, everyone started to praise War for the Planet of the Apes the moment the first preview screening ended. So I decided to look at the first 2 films: Rise of the Planet of the Apes, & Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Both films were absolutely amazing sci-fi epics.

At that point, I was sold on seeing this film. And it definitely did not disappoint one bit.

The film focuses once again on Caesar (played by Andy Serkis), who is leading a clan of intelligent apes in the woods in California. The clan is attacked by a military faction named Alpha-Omega, who has some apes in its service who were against Caesar & supported Koba (played by Toby Kebbell). Some Alpha-Omega members are captured by Caesar. Caesar releases them as a peace offering to the humans, & plans to relicate across the desert to stop the fighting. However, before that can be done, Colonel McCullough (played by Woody Harrelson), attacks the clan by himself. Enraged, Caesar, along with Maurice (played by Karin Konoval), Luca (played by Michael Adamthwaite), & Rocket (played by Terry Notary), leave to exact revenge on Colonel McCullough, who is at "the border."

Along the way, after killing a man who tried to shoot them, the apes encounter a young girl (played by Amiah Miller) who happens to be the man's daughter. The girl is mute, having suffered that fate due to the Simian Flu. Maurice names her Nova. Towards the border, they meet Bad Ape (played by Steve Zahn), a former ape at the Sierra Zoo who has obvious psychological damage due to bad treatment from humans. He has knowledge of "the border", stating that it was a "human zoo", which means a quarantine facility. The facility was originally a weapons depot, & is now a base for Alpha-Omega.

The Colonel reveals his bloodthirsty ways of dealing with people who carry the mutated Simian Flu, much to the horror of the apes, & will stop at nothing to kill the apes. Caesar has to set free the apes at any cost, & must rethink his morals & look at what he's become, fearing he's turned into Koba.

The cast is spectacular. Andy Serkis gives an Oscar-worthy performance, & if the Academy has a brain, they will nominate Serkis, which would be a surprise considering the Academy has gone against nominating actors in motion-capture roles. Woody Harrelson also gives a spectacular performance, making you despise him every moment he's on the screen.

Matt Reeves's direction is excellent. Having previously directed the excellent found-footage sci-fi film Cloverfield, the amazing horror remake Let Me In, along with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Reeves has directed his best film yet, & his excellent direction is especially shown off in the amazing action sequences that are the best of the year.

The screenplay by Matt Reeves & Mark Bomback is amazing. Creating an atmosphere of dread, sacrifice, & survival, Reeves & Bomback make the story extremely engaging, & make you support the apes & go against humans who are so cruel. They also make the characters so interesting & 3-dimensional, & they also put some amazing political, theological, & social allegories in the story as well.

The cinematography by Michael Seresin is excellent, putting you right into the action at every moment.

The editing by William Hoy & Stan Salfas is excellent. It doesn't use a lot of the frenetic cuts seen a lot in action films these days. Hoy & Salfas don't let any scenes go too quickly without us taking the scene in, & there are barely any continuity errors.

The sound editing & sound mixing are both amazing. Like the cinematography, they both make you feel like you're right in the middle of the action.

The visual effects are an absolute treasure. The motion capture used by the actors make the apes look so lifelike it's so startling.

And Michael Giacchino's score is absolutely beautiful. This score is definitely the best of his career, with the quiet sounds of the piano & other instruments really tugging at the heartstrings.

This is one of the 5 best films of the year so far. It's an absolutely emotional conclusion to an amazing trilogy, & deserves to be hailed as one of the best conclusions to a trilogy of all time.

War for the Planet of the Apes was seen by me at the MJR Marketplace Digital Cinema 20 in Sterling Heights, MI on Tuesday, July 18, 2017. It is in theaters everywhere. Its runtime is 140 minutes, & it is rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi violence & action, thematic elements & some disturbing images.

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