Tag Archives: War for the Planet of the Apes

War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)

If you follow this blog or know me personally, you’ll know War for the Planet of the Apes has been my most anticipated movie for three years, ever since the 2014 release of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, my most anticipated movie since 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the awesomeness that came out of nowhere to become my No. 1 film of that year. What can I say? I’m just obsessed with apes.

With expectations through the roof, I knew I was probably in for a disappointing experience, especially after the spectacular early critic reviews started rolling in a couple of weeks prior to the release (it’s currently 93% on Rotten Tomatoes). But I somehow managed to compose myself as I stepped into the cinema today, not too high and not too low, with as clean of a slate as I could bring.

And I was blown away.

Let’s just say War for the Planet of the Apes was as good as I expected, but—like its two predecessors—it also wasn’t what I was expecting. You know how you get an idea in your mind of how a movie is going to play out after you see a trailer or two? Well, War did not play out like how I thought it would. There are plot points I knew the film had to hit, and it does that, but the story was a little different, the progression was a little different, and there were some nice surprises thrown in for good measure. Kudos to the people who cut the trailer too because they didn’t show too much as I had feared.

Set two years after DawnWar pits ape leader Caesar (Andy Serkis) against a ruthless colonel played by Woody Harrelson in a war that will determine the fate of apes and humans. Despite being a film centred around apes, it’s a story full of humanity. It’s the reason why every entry in the trilogy works so well. Yes, there are the revolutionary special effects and the heart-thumping action, but the core of the films have always been about the humanity of the apes and the relationships between humans and apes and apes and apes.

The stakes are high and the feel of the film is epic, almost biblical. Indeed, there are various religious references as Caesar has shades of both Moses and Jesus. Matt Reeves, who helmed Dawn, returns again as director as well as co-writer of an excellent script along with Matt Bomback (who also wrote Dawn). As such, the look and feel of the film is closer to Dawn than Rise, with a sombre tone that has only a few lighter moments sprinkled throughout thanks to Steve Zahn’s new character, Bad Ape.

What really impressed me about Bomback and Reeves’ script is the way it pieces everything together, linking up not just the other films in the series but also the original 1968 adaptation with Charlton Heston. I also liked the allusions to other classics which I won’t spoil. There are a few small holes and plot points I would have liked to have seen simmer for a little longer before being resolved, but it’s otherwise virtually seamless.

Needless to say, the action sequences are fantastic. War is indeed a war movie, and even though a lot of the blood and violence is toned down or skillfully avoided for rating reasons, you do get a lot of carnage and a feel for the horrors of war. However, it is because the characters are so well-developed that the action actually means something and provides that emotional punch rather than just loud noises and explosions, something another movie I saw recently (ah hem, Transformers 5), failed at miserably.

And of course, the special effects. Weta Digital once again proves it is the best in the business and absolutely deserves an Academy Award for making Caesar and all the apes come to life once again. The amount of detail on the apes’ faces, especially the close-ups, is jaw-dropping and conveys as much emotion as any human performance. No other film CGI I’ve seen has been able to capture the soul in the eyes quite like this franchise has, not even Rogue One or The Jungle Book. The special effects are so good that you don’t really even think about them during the movie—you simply take it for granted.

Speaking of Oscars, it’s about damn time Andy Serkis gets at least a nomination for his portrayal of Caesar. This whole film, this entire franchise, has hinged on his performance capture, and Serkis once again hits it out of the park. The emotional depth he conveys with every facial expression, every look, every movement of his body, is just amazing. The other apes are also very good, but Serkis is what makes War the film that it is.

On the human side, Woody Harrelson is a splendid and perfectly cast villain who delivers both a terrifying madness but also enough humanity to make us understand his actions. A lesser actor would not have been able to pull it off, especially a couple of longer monologues of exposition that could have been dry without Harrelson’s intensity and charisma.

War for the Planet of the Apes is the finale I had been dreaming of, a finale that completes one of the best movie franchises of all time. Yes, I’m putting it in the same category as The Godfather trilogythe original Star Wars trilogy, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and of course, the Harold and Kumar trilogy (just kidding). It really is that good, both in isolation and as part of the wider series. I don’t think it’s a stretch to call it a masterpiece.

5 stars out of 5

Most Anticipated Movies of 2017

Happy New Year! 2017 is shaping up to be one of the most epic years in film history with loads of blockbuster releases.

First up, these are the ones I’m not particularly interested in:

Fifty Shades Darker (Feb 10)

The first one was horrible, and this one — if the books are any measure — will be even worse.

Cars 3 (June 16)

Cars has to be one of the worst Disney animated franchises. I still haven’t been able to watch one without falling asleep. I’m pretty sure I’ll skip this.

XXX: Return of Xander Cage (Jan 20)

XXX 2 with Ice Cube was a movie experience that will probably scar me for life. This looks better because Vin Diesel is back, but I’m not expecting much.

Transformers: The Last Knight (June 23)

I have officially given up on this franchise. I’m sure it will make loads of money, but as long as Michael Bay is at the helm, there’s not much to get excited about. Even the trailer is a little meh this time.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (May 26)

I’ve never been much of a fan of this franchise either. The first one was decent, but since then Johnny Depp’s shtick has been annoying.

Baywatch (May 26)

Gosh. This looks like a disaster waiting to happen.

Saw: Legacy (Oct 27)No trailer yet, but no trailer needed. This is an absolute cash grab that does not need to be made. It will simply soil the franchise further.

Pitch Perfect 3 (Dec 22)

Not even a poster yet. I liked the first one but the second one felt like it already wore out its welcome. I doubt a third one will be any good.

Despicable Me 3 (June 30)

Another animated franchise I could never get into properly. This trailer has not changed my mind.

The Shack (March 3)

I remember being really intrigued by the book when I first saw the cover a few years ago. But then I found out it was a cleverly disguised Christian novel and saw this trailer. Sigh.

Jumanji (Dec 22)

Yet another remake that does not need to be made. Nice cast, but I will be very shocked if this does not turn out to be a shocker.

Snatched (May 12)

After the success of Trainwreck, Amy Schumer is back with Snatched, co-starring Goldie Hawn. The trailer gives away I suppose what can be called a twist? Can’t say this interests me very much.

These are the ones I’m intrigued by but missed the list:

The Fate of the Furious (April 12)

I honestly think they should have stopped after the last one given the way they gave Paul Walker the perfect send-off. But money talks and there are more ridiculous stunts waiting to happen. Must say this trailer does not particularly excite me.

A Cure for Wellness (Feb 17)

Gore Verbinski directs a psychological horror starring Dane DeHaan. Looks fascinating. Count me in.

Insidious: Chapter 4 (Oct 20)

This is a cute little meta teaser trailer. Insidious is definitely one of the better horror franchises, so I’m at least intrigued by what the fourth installment has to offer.

Flatliners (Sep 29)

The cast of Flatliners 2017 take a photo on set.

The original about life-after-death experimentation was not exactly a classic, but it had a super cast (Kiefer Sutherland, Julia Roberts, Kevin Bacon, Billy Baldwin, Oliver Platt). This remake features Ellen Page, Diego Luna and Nina Dobrev, and might have some new special effects and ideas to make it worthwhile.

Annabelle 2 (Aug 11)

The first one was a disappointment, but the sequel promises to be better. The trailer suggests this to be the case.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle (Sep 29)

The first one was a pleasant surprise. Not sure if the sequel can replicate the magic, but I’m eager to find out.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (July 21)

This is supposedly based on a legendary text that many other movies have borrowed from over the years. The trailer looks okay, I suppose. Hope it’s not another Jupiter Ascending.

Power Rangers (March 24)

I shouldn’t be interested in this, but I am. The trailer does not instill confidence but I’m willing to give it a shot.

The Dark Tower (July 28)

Never read the Stephen King novels upon which this is based, but it certainly looks promising with Matthew McConaughey and Idris Elba in the lead roles.

The Lego Batman Movie (Feb 10)

I laughed like a lunatic throughout The Lego Movie, and Batman was one of the major reasons. Hope this one can live up to the hype with Will Arnett once again reprising the voice of the caped crusader.

Get Out (Feb 24)

Not sure what to think of this strange, racially tinged horror flick, but it does seem interesting. Check out the trailer.

It (Sep 8)

The TV mini-series based on the Stephen King novel was the No. 1 thing that scared the crap out of me as a kid, so I am really looking forward to how they do a film version with Bill Skarsgard as the titular monster.

T2 Trainspotting (Jan 27)

I don’t have strong impressions of the original, so this isn’t as high on my list. And sequels that have taken more than 20 years to get made usually don’t perform well.

Beauty and the Beast (March 17)

This was in my top 15 until I realised there was another movie I had completely forgotten. I liked the animated version and I think this has the potential to be very good. Not quite sure about Emma Watson as Belle though.

And here’s my top 15!

15. The Mummy (June 9)

This could be good or bad. Still not sure what to think from the trailer. But I trust Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe and I know this needs to be great in order for the rest of the Universal monsters franchise to have a shot.

14. Thor: Ragnarok (Nov 3)

This would be higher in any other year, and especially after this hilarious “vacation trailer”. I wasn’t thrilled with Thor 2, though this has a chance to be a monster hit given that it also features the Hulk.

13. Blade Runner 2049 (Oct 6)

Oh man, I’m so excited about this long-awaited sequel to the sci-fi classic, particularly as it is directed by Denis Villeneuve. However, my fears of a sequel/reboot that has taken this long to come to fruition are also at play here. It’s the only reason why this isn’t in the top 10, possibly top 5.

12. John Wick: Chapter 2 (Feb 10)

The first one was an exhilarating surprise hit. The second one looks very promising by the looks of this trailer. Could well be the best action flick of the year.

11. World War Z 2 (June 9)

The first one went through production hell but came out gloriously on the other side. I know a lot of people didn’t like it, but I absolutely loved the World War Z. Still no news or teaser trailer or even poster with the scheduled release date just 6 months away, so we’ll have to wait and see if they push it back.

10. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (May 5)

I didn’t love the first one as much as everyone else, but upon a second viewing it’s grown on me more. Guardians is different, fun and funny, and I think this second one could be even better.

9. Wonder Woman (June 2)

DC has not hit it out of the park yet with any of their new DC Extended Universe movies, and I’m hoping Wonder Woman can be the first. I’m sure it will be good, but I’m not sure if will live up to expectations.

8. Spider-Man: Homecoming (July 7)

The new Tom Holland version of Spider-Man was one of the best things about Captain America: Civil War, so naturally everyone is excited about his first solo movie . With Michael Keaton as the villain Vulture, there’s every reason to be optimistic that Marvel will get it done once again.

7. Alien: Covenant (May 19)

I was one of the few people on the planet who really enjoyed Prometheus, flaws and all, so of course I’m looking forward to its sequel. This time, Ridley Scott has ditched any pretensions about there not being a direct link to Alien, but I just hope they don’t try to force a connection too much. The first trailer looks like we’re in for a pure horror in the vein of the original.

6. Logan (March 3)

Hugh Jackman’s last time as Wolverine, and it looks like he’s going to go out with a bang. I don’t know when or if they’re ever going to make a movie based on The Last of Us, so this could be as close as we’re going to get for a while. Best trailer of the lot?

5. Kong: Skull Island (March 10)

I’m partial to the big fella, and this movie could be setting up an epic duel soon with Godzilla. Brie Larson, Tom Hiddleston. What’s there not to like?

4. Justice League (Nov 17)

I’m almost as excited about this film as I was about The Avengers. I know the odds are stacked against it given DC’s track record, but one can only hope that Ben Affleck’s influence will push it in the right direction. It looks like a lot of fun.

3. Dunkirk (July 21)

I worship at the altar of Christopher Nolan, so it’s no surprise his new war film is up this high. The trailer looks absolutely incredible too. I know it will be fantastic.

2. Star Wars: Episode VIII (Dec 15)

The Force Awakens more or less lived up to expectations and Rogue One was great in its own right. I can’t wait to find out what Rey, Finn, Poe and Kylo have been up to, and it will be fantastic to finally see Luke Skywalker for more than a few seconds. Above all, it’s directed by Rian Johnson, so I feel like nothing can possibly go wrong. It’s almost blasphemous that I’m not putting this as No. 1.

1. War for the Planet of the Apes

What. You were expecting something else? Don’t be silly.