war for the planet of the apes

The Pri­mate Di­rec­tive

SFX - - Reviews - Richard Ed­wards

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.

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