It’s amazing how far CGI has developed over the past decade. It’s hard to imagine a film that does it better than Matt Reeves’ reboot of the Planet of the Apes franchise. And the final film in the prequel trilogy, War for the Planet of the Apes, takes the tool even further by giving us an Apes film that relies on the technology for the bulk of the film.
The film takes place sometime after the events of Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Caesar and his gang are caught up in a war between humanity and the apes, started by the events of the last film, and now are looking for a place to call their own. They wind up being caught up in a battle among the human population, with a Colonel (Woody Harrelson) looking to use the apes to his advantage. Caesar just wants peace in a world that seemingly won’t allow his people to have it.
The fascinating thing about the film is that it combines a number of different subgenres and manages to find a way to push them into one. It’s a breakout film set in a war while also being a character study of a warrior king trying to find the proper way to lead his people.
The film delicately balances this line, taking a science fiction concept and rooting it firmly in a war setting, and works as well as it does because of two things: Amazing CGI and brilliant filmmaking.
Reeves manages to have very little in terms of actual dialogue, as the apes en masse can’t speak yet, but he manages to convey dialogue with both sign language and emotion. Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard famously opined “We didn’t dialogue. We had faces!” and Reeves is able to pull that off for huge swathes of the film. The apes are incredibly sympathetic and well-developed characters without needing huge chunks of dialogue to pull it off; some terrific CGI work alongside motion capture has brought the ability for an actor like Andy Serkis to really bring out some amazing work. Serkis will never win an Oscar for this role … but he should.
Everything about how the film works comes from this three-piece concerto. War for the Planet of the Apes is a brilliant movie in part because it takes a dynamic story and brings us emotion work by flipping the script and giving us apes as the heroes and the humans as the villains.
There’s some EPK pieces alongside a commentary track.
20th Century Fox presents War for the Planet of the Apes. Directed by Matt Reeves. Written by Mark Bomback & Matt Reeves. Starring Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn, Karin Konoval, Amiah Miller, Terry Notary, Ty Olsson Run Time: 140minutes. PG-13 Rating. Released on 10.24.17
Tags: Amiah Miller, andy serkis, Karin Konoval, Matt Reeves, Steve Zahn, Terry Notary, Ty Olsson, War for the Planet of the Apes, Woody Harrelson