WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES (M, 140 MINS), DIRECTED BY MATT REEVES

The Hastings Mail - - WHAT’S ON -

Third time re­ally is the charm for Weta Dig­i­tal.

Who knew that 15 years af­ter the fran­chise seem­ingly went for a fa­tal [Tim] ‘‘Bur­ton’’, we’d be hail­ing th­ese Planet pre­quels/ re­boots as one of the great cine­matic sci-fi trilo­gies. We’ve truly seen the rise of a com­pelling, com­pli­cated yet com­pre­hen­si­ble story that has also her­alded a new dawn in spe­cial-ef­fects wiz­ardry and moviemak­ing, crowned by the breath­tak­ing, be­guil­ing and bravura War.

For the past two years, Cae­sar (Andy Serkis) and his ge­net­i­cally en­hanced shrewd­ness of apes have been on the run, try­ing to evade cap­ture by those hu­mans not wiped out by Simian Flu. Still pay­ing for the rash ac­tions of his once loyal lieu­tenant Koba, Cae­sar’s hopes of peace with his less hairy ‘‘dis­tant rel­a­tives’’ now seem for­lorn.

A leader who never wanted war, he finds him­self drawn into it when bul­lets meant for him take away both his beloved el­dest son and part­ner. As re­venge blind­sides him, he aban­dons his charges, hell­bent on mak­ing the homo-sapien who hurt him pay.

Adding co-writ­ing du­ties to his Dawn di­rect­ing gig, Matt Reeves has con­jured up a po­tent com­bi­na­tion of heartwrench­ing and har­row­ing Shake­spear­ian drama and thrilling ac­tion. Fans of the orig­i­nal se­ries quin­tet have plenty of nods large and small to ex­cite them, while Reeves and Mark Bom­back also seem­ingly draw from a wide range of lit­er­ary and cine­matic in­spi­ra­tions.

Com­bin­ing the premises and con­ceits of two ear­lier 2017 block­busters – Kong: Skull Is­land and Lo­gan – War will also re­mind view­ers of clas­sic tales like The Searchers, Apoca­lypse Now, The Em­pire Strikes Back and Spar­ta­cus. It’s also a tale that feels both time­less and timely, es­pe­cially given the ‘‘night­mare’’ some Amer­i­cans feel they’ve been ex­pe­ri­enc­ing since ‘‘that Tues­day’’ in Novem­ber.

Read all the al­le­gories and al­lu­sions you want into it though, at its heart War is in­no­va­tive, in­tel­li­gent and in­deli­ble cin­ema.

Michael Gi­acchino’s ( Lost) score is haunt­ing, the set-pieces thrilling, the spec­ta­cle jaw­drop­ping and the per­for­mances pow­er­fully per­sua­sive. On the hu­man side, you have Woody Har­rel­son evok­ing his Nat­u­ral Born Killers persona, while up against him there’s a cadre of amaz­ing mo­tion-cap­ture en­hanced turns, led by the in­creas­ingly amaz­ing Andy Serkis. The Academy, The Hol­ly­wood For­eign Press et al need to find a way to hon­our this ground­break­ing piece of act­ing. And surely Welling­ton’s Weta will be col­lect­ing plenty of sil­ver and gold­ware come early 2018. For they have de­liv­ered the 2017 block­buster we’ve all been wait­ing for.

Fi­nally a film worth go­ing ape about. – James Croot

In War For the Planet of the Apes, Woody Har­rel­son evokes mem­o­ries of his performance in Nat­u­ral Born Killers.

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