Starring: Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn
Directed by: Matt Reeves (“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”)
Written by: Matt Reeves (“Let Me In”) and Mark Bomback (“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”)
Director Rupert Wyatt may have kicked off an adequate reboot to the “Planet of the Apes” franchise with 2011’s “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” and made audiences forget whatever the hell director Tim Burton did 10 years prior with his unfortunate “Apes” misfire, but filmmaker Matt Reeves has taken this re-imagining to a level we could not have predicted.
If 2014’s “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” wasn’t evidence enough that Reeves had created something exceptional, “War for the Planet of the Apes” will have you hoping the 41-year-old director/writer can somehow get his hands on every action film project for the foreseeable future. “War” is compelling, suspenseful, moving, funny and an all-around epic. It’s the type of blockbuster summer movie that transcends the idea of blockbuster summer movies.
Besides “War” having Reeves’ fingerprints all over it, it’s just as much actor Andy Serkis’ film as anyone behind the camera. Not that Serkis has to prove anything to anyone any longer as the go-to actor for all things motion-capture, but his lead character in this franchise, even more so in “War,” is stunning. From the beginning, Caesar has never been just an animated primate rendered together by graphic geniuses. In “War,” however, Caesar goes beyond his anthropomorphic qualities and shatters the notion that technology is the main reason Serkis’ performance is so powerful. Caesar is king and Serkis is the puppet master.
“War” transitions from a film about combat to revenge to one centered on a prison break in seamless fashion. Picking up a couple of years where “Dawn” left off, Caesar and his army of apes are in search of a safe haven to start anew without the threat of humans who are still hell-bent on destroying them for introducing the Simian flu, which killed off millions of people. Leading the charge again the apes is a man known as The Colonel (Woody Harrelson), who becomes the target of Caesar’s rage and sets Caesar on a course to seek vengeance.
With dark, atmospheric and ominous cinematography by Michael Seresin (“Angela’s Ashes”) and an incredible score by Oscar winner Micahel Giacchino, both of whom worked on “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” “War” without question is not only a visual pleasure, but also a complex and memorable end to an overall brilliant trilogy. If Reeves is up for it, this franchise is one of the few that has definitely not overstayed its welcome and should continue in full force.