War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)
Dir. Matt Reeves
Starring Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn
The eagerly anticipated threequel in the Planet of the Apes saga does not disappoint – if you know what it is you’re watching.
Backed by a haunting score that lingers long after the movie is over, the film chronicles Cesar’s navigation of a devastating war between apes and humans. After a disturbing attack by the humans, Cesar leaves his people to find the Colonel, played by Woody Harrelson, to demand vengeance. Aided by old friends Maurice, Rocket, and Luca, Cesar finds himself haunted by the violence around him as well as his own moral failings.
The film focuses then not on violence, but on the effects of war. The story takes viewers through the war-ravaged countryside as the characters, portrayed brilliantly by their actors, attempt to cope with what has happened to them. As the film goes on, the story lingers on scenes where characters simply talk to each other. Sometimes about the plot, but oftentimes about their past traumas and the ways they deal with their own history.
The performance given by Andy Serkis (shown before CGI effects are added on the left) as Cesar is stunning as he brings a quiet but tired anger to a character made entirely of CGI effects. His performance isn’t the only standout; Woody Harrelson plays a terrifying but sympathetic villain as the Colonel, and newcomer Amiah Miller packs clarity and wisdom into Nova, a mute human girl taken in by the group.
Of course, there is fighting and some pretty awesome explosions at the end in the final battle, but even then, the violence is grounded in the anger, empathy, and history of the characters. Even the climactic scene involves not violence, but a scene between two characters connecting. And admittedly, if what you’re buckling in for is something more lighthearted, the movie will drag a bit as Cesar and his group interact slowly with every plot point. But if you’re looking for poignancy, War for the Planet of the Apes has this in spades.
(Note that the library does not have this movie available to check out as it is still in theaters. It is currently on order).
written by: kassie marie