Borne free

The re­mark­able re­boot tril­ogy ends on a poignant note with nu­mer­ous par­al­lels to a dif­fer­ent Charl­ton He­ston clas­sic.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Movies - Re­view by DAVIN ARUL en­ter­tain­ment@thes­tar.com.my

War For The Planet Of The Apes Di­rec­tor: Matt Reeves

Cast: Andy Serkis, Woody Har­rel­son, Steve Zahn, Karin Kono­val, Terry No­tary, Amiah Miller, Toby Kebbel

THIS re­boot of the 1960s-1970s clas­sic sci-fi/ac­tion/ad­ven­ture se­ries has proven to be a re­mark­able achieve­ment from the mo­ment it caught movie­go­ers by sur­prise with Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes back in 2011, to the in­tense Dawn in 2014.

Not just in terms of the vi­su­als, as mo­tion-cap­ture and CGI tech­niques con­jured up some amaz­ingly re­al­is­tic ape ac­tion and emot­ing, but also in the way it has cap­tured the heart and soul of both its ape and hu­man char­ac­ters to lev­els of pro­found­ness that ac­tion­ad­ven­ture yarns usu­ally have no busi­ness plumbing.

War, the con­clud­ing part of the tril­ogy, brings the saga of the su­per-in­tel­li­gent ape named Cae­sar (Andy Serkis) to a close in a way that el­e­vates his jour­ney, from be­ing just a strug­gle for sur­vival to the de­liv­er­ance of a peo­ple from op­pres­sion.

While I was cu­ri­ous to see how – or if – this fi­nal film would tie in to the orig­i­nal 1968 Planet Of The Apes (ref­er­enced in news items seen through­out Rise), I sud­denly re­alised while watch­ing it how closely it par­al­lels a dif­fer­ent Charl­ton He­ston clas­sic al­to­gether.

On the sur­face, it ap­pears to be a clash of wills be­tween Cae­sar and a ruth­less Spe­cial Forces Colonel (Woody Har­rel­son, re­ferred to as just “The Colonel” through­out) who is de­ter­mined to ex­ter­mi­nate apekind.

Both Cae­sar and The Colonel have sim­ple mo­ti­va­tions, though tellingly it is the apes’ strug­gle that in­di­cates a higher or­der of think­ing – yearn­ing, al­most – while the hu­mans are driven by a more pri­mal and ba­sic im­pulse.

Un­like in the orig­i­nal run of films, where the strug­gle cul­mi­nated in a more or less straight­for­ward clash be­tween the fac­tions, things are more com­pli­cated here.

War does not un­fold in the way you ini­tially think it will, sur­pris­ing the viewer with ev­ery few steps it takes. Some­times, sit­u­a­tions re­solve them­selves in gen­tler ways than we imag­ined. At other times, even the ob­vi­ous is given a dif­fer­ent enough spin to make it seem fresh.

In the Planet Of The Apes canon – es­tab­lished early on, right in the orig­i­nal 1968 film – we al­ready saw the bleak fate that awaits hu­man­ity.

War builds on the dis­man­tling of hu­man civil­i­sa­tion be­gun in Rise and Dawn to show mankind much fur­ther down that spi­ral.

And while this new tril­ogy has been more sym­pa­thetic to the apes than it has been to hu­man­ity, War throws a lit­tle mute hu­man girl (Amiah Miller) into the mix to re­mind us that hey, we’re not so bad after all, as long as ... well, maybe the film is also mak­ing a state­ment when you con­sider what kind of con­di­tions are needed to make us “not so bad after all”.

Truth be told, the kid aside, there’s not much else about the hu­man­ity on dis­play here to make us hair­less apes feel par­tic­u­larly proud of our­selves.

Like its two pre­de­ces­sors, War holds up a dis­tor­tion-free mir­ror for us to look in and re­flect a lit­tle on what, if any­thing, truly sets us apart from the beasts.

And how eas­ily, if a chal­lenge to our imag­ined su­pe­ri­or­ity arises from a species con­sid­ered to be in­fe­rior, we so read­ily drop a few rungs down the evo­lu­tion­ary lad­der to meet it and beat it into sub­mis­sion (or obliv­ion).

With most of the hu­mans in this film all too ready to take that plunge, then, the core of War be­comes the strug­gle of Cae­sar him­self to rise above the ha­tred that burns in him as a re­sult of Man’s ac­tions. And it’s not an easy climb for the leader, bear­ing as he does the weight of his en­tire fledg­ling civil­i­sa­tion upon his shoul­ders.

War could have used some tight­en­ing in the bridg­ing of its sec­ond and third acts, but oth­er­wise, it truly does give a suit­ably lofty feel to Cae­sar’s strug­gle.

Ex­cel­lent on most lev­els – from the deeply af­fect­ing ex­pres­sive­ness of its ac­tors to the clev­erly-workedin Easter eggs to its su­perla­tive (and quite atyp­i­cal) Michael Gi­acchino score – War is once again proof that sum­mer movies can be both sprawl­ing and thought­ful, and that the in­ner con­flict of an in­di­vid­ual can be ev­ery bit as epic as the clash of armies and ar­madas.

In ad­di­tion to en­thralling movie­go­ers, it is also rec­om­mended re­me­dial ed­u­ca­tion ma­te­rial for the pur­vey­ors of empty spec­ta­cle who prize ex­plo­sions over en­gage­ment.

‘Ev­ery­one get out of the for­est! I just saw Tim Bur­ton scout­ing lo­ca­tions by the river.’ — Pho­tos: 20th Cen­tury Fox

‘Get ready, kid, your big scene is com­ing up where you win over the au­di­ence’s hearts. Not bad for some­one with no lines.’

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