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Baltimore Reviews… WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES

War for the Planet of the Apes is the third installment of the rebooted series. And while it’s not a great film, it is a fitting end to the franchise. Matt Reeves directs a summer blockbuster that is not just popcorn fluff, but has an actual deep, dark undertone that tries to elevate the film. Don’t get me wrong, there are guns,explosions and grim, gritty action sequences but there is also a very real – dare I say it – human story going on here that gives the film heart that I didn’t expect.

Once again, Andy Serkis lends his motion capture acting services for Caesar, and brings his emotional journey to a fitting crescendo for this trilogy. Andy Serkis has really made a career out his motion capture and this is a clear reason why. He makes you believe who he is no matter the expensive CGI used on him We have seen Caesar go from a confused innocent to a warrior to survivor. The CGI in this film is incredible and stirring – an improvement seen in each successive film.

Woody Harrelson plays the Colonel with a fierce disposition and you can feel the internal struggle he goes through to save the humans. It’s a desperate ‘us or them’ scenario that increases the stakes and asks the question – what would you do to save the human race? War is terrible and terrible things happen, and that is a concept that War explores – not just through the human contingent, but also through the eyes of the apes. They want to be left alone and find their own way, but are stopped at every point.

I think some of the outspoken hatred towards this film could be avoided with the title. War evokes a stronger fight than we ever get in this film, which is a bit disappointing as the story breaks down a bit towards the end. There is also the
question of the little girl, who seemingly cries for an ape she has only met for one day, versus someone who raised her. A bit out of character, but perhaps that is what the director wanted. However, it just feels odd.

The story moves along and forces you to make some extreme leaps of logic just to get to the next scene. This is highlighted in the infiltration scene where four apes sneak into a military base without anyone noticing. Where are the guards? Coffee break? This is just one of the examples from the film that make you question the writing.

Next, there are a lot of religious overtones with the story that feel a bit in your face in their actual execution. Reeves could have worked a little harder to make them less noticeable – we don’t need to be browbeaten with it. The phrase may be “Apes Together Strong” but that message seems lost in the movie. If you want to see the movie for the sake of completeness, then be forewarned, it will quite possibly let you down.

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