war for the planet of the apes
The Primate Directive
released 27 November (Out 10 November on download) 2017 | 12 | blu-ray (4K/3d/standard)/ dvd/download Director matt reeves Cast andy serkis, Woody Harrelson, steve Zahn, Karin Konoval
The warmongering title of this final instalment of the Apes prequel trilogy is slightly misleading. Yes, there’s conflict (on a planet, with apes), but this is far from the epic human v simian slugfest the name implies – the movie is much more subtle and satisfying than that.
It’s to returning writer/director Matt Reeves’s credit that it eschews the traditional bigger-is-better model of most franchise closers, to tell a more characterdriven tale. In fact, lead chimp Caesar’s (Andy Serkis) vengeance-fuelled mission to take down human military leader the Colonel (Woody Harrelson) owes as much to classics like Apocalypse Now or The Great Escape as any battle-heavy actioner. It’s extremely intelligent storytelling, confident enough to have extended sequences with no spoken dialogue, and give its seemingly crazed antagonist a decent arc – despite first appearances, Harrelson isn’t just playing some scenery-chewing army villain.
While we’ve almost come to take the brilliance of the performance-captured apes for granted, here they’re taken to the next level. As well as being photo-real to the point you forget they’re CG, they’re capable of displaying empathy and emotion that would be beyond many entirely human actors. All of their actions feel plausible – even the small group of gorillas who’ve defected to work with the humans – which means you actually care about their plight. Just try keeping a dry eye when Caesar is reunited with his youngest son.
With the nods to the original Planet Of The Apes ramped up considerably – apes on horseback on a beach, mute humans – War starts to neatly close the circle with the first Charlton Heston movie. It’s a near-perfect conclusion to a reboot series that’s always been a cut above the average blockbuster saga. Extras The movie gets the extras it deserves both in terms of quantity and quality. “Waging War For The Planet Of the Apes” (30 minutes) and “Weta: Pushing Boundaries” (11 minutes) are more intelligent than the average making-of fare, while “All About Caesar” (13 minutes) goes in-depth on the simian hero. “Apes: The Meaning Of It All” (20 minutes) looks back at the entire Apes franchise and “The Apes Saga: An Homage” (eight minutes) highlights the new movies’ many reference to the original films. The most notable moment, however, comes on “Music For Apes” (six minutes) where composer Michael Giacchino meets percussionist Emil Richards, who’s worked on every single Apes movie. You also get commentary by Matt Reeves, 10 deleted scenes (23 minutes), a concept art gallery and trailers.
Steve Zahn appears in the flesh when Bad Ape steals a gun and rides off on a horse – they just put him in a parka!
This is extremely intelligent storytelling
Putting aside their differences to play Donkey Kong.