Monday, July 17, 2017

[Review] War for the Planet of the Apes

This Apes reboot has come a long way since young Caesar--now the saga's wise and weary protagonist--was basking in the arms of James Franco. The latest installment, War for the Planet of the Apes swings further into dystopian darkness, playing as an Exodus-like swan song.

As we check back in with the story's stoic leader, he's a bit more grey. A bit angrier. And he's doing his best to keep his village safe from attacks by human soldiers. But when tragedy strikes Caesar's family, he sets out with a couple of his trusty comrades in order to infiltrate a military base and take down its sadistic, Apocalypse Now-esque Colonel (played intimidatingly by Woody Harrelson).

The film is part grueling journey, part prison camp escape thriller. There are surprises around every corner, up every tree, through every tunnel, and amidst every cold and snowy mountain. Let's just say "Game of Thrones" isn't the only place where Winter Has Come... And while the film unleashes a couple of explosive battles, this time around it casts more focus on the smaller, quieter moments--which pack just as much power in their somber plot turns and poignant imagery. This definitely isn't the easiest watch. If it weren't for Caesar's commendable will and the funny new comic relief character "Bad Ape" who dons a blue jacket vest, this would almost be a complete downer. In fact, the film's second half is essentially like watching a Holocaust drama, with just a slight window of hope.

Michael Giacchino's musical score heightens the intensity and deepens the emotion. And like its predecessor, the film's technical proficiency astounds--from the immersive sound design, to the lush cinematography, to the startlingly realistic renderings of the apes and the impressive motion-capture work. And yes, Andy Serkis deserves to be praised for his behind-the-effects performance as Caesar.

In the end, the 21st century Caesar solidifies himself as one of the best on-screen heroes of this generation. And War for the Planet of the Apes is a STRONG conclusion to an excellent trilogy.

* 9/10 *

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