War for the Planet of the Apes
4.5/5 MUST must see SEE
dir Matt Reeves
scr Mark Bomback, Matt Reeves
prd Peter Chernin, Dylan Clark, Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver
with Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Amiah Miller, Karin Konoval, Steve Zahn, Gabriel Chavarria, Terry Notary, Michael Adamthwaite, Aleks Paunovic, Devyn Dalton, Judy Greer, Toby Kebbell
release UK 11.Jul.17, US 14.Jul.17
17/US Fox 2h22
War for the Planet of the Apes
Peace is not an option: Maurice and Caesar

serkis harrelson zahn
Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
War for the Planet of the Apes This beefy conclusion to this prequel trilogy is unusually thoughtful for a blockbuster, centring on the characters' deeper emotions rather than their thunderous race to violence. There's plenty of big action along the way, but the film remains powerfully introspective. And it's easy to forget that most of the characters are digitally rendered.

The virus has left few humans to stand up to the apes. While ape leader Caesar (Serkis) wants peace with humans, his community is under attack from the Colonel (Harrelson) and his militia. When Caesar's family is killed, he takes his faithful advisor Maurice (Konoval) on a mission as the colony makes its escape. Along the way they rescue a young orphan girl (Miller) and a lost ape (Zahn), heading into a deadly stand-off with the Colonel, who is awaiting military reinforcements from the north who will wipe out the apes once and for all.

Unusually for an action movie, Reeves lets scenes patiently play out, building a strong sense of the characters and settings. This deepens the experience of the story and creates gnawing suspense as events progress. It also means that we become much more tightly bound to these apes, who are shot in close-up to offer detailed emotional resonance. It's a powerful demonstration of just how much real acting goes into this kind of performance.

Serkis is magnetic in this role, anchoring every moment of the movie. Surely it's impossible to ignore this perforamance come awards season. Caesar is a full-blooded character, flawed and sympathetic, with a story arc achieves biblical proportions in the final moments. Konoval's orangutan Maurice is equally compelling, taking on a major role in the narrative. And Harrelson gets to put some dark meaning beneath the Colonel's swagger, leading to an unexpected climactic moment.

All of this is skilfully shot and edited to create visual as well as emotional depth. Despite the fact that most of the cast is digital, the film looks seamless, and much of the action is earthy and grounded, cleverly avoiding the overblown spectacle for something more punchy. There are a couple of oddly convenient plot points, especially in the final act, and the central narrative seems to resolve itself a little too neatly, adding a tidy conclusion to this trilogy. But these three films have proven how strong effects-based epics can be if they remember to keep story and character as the top priority.

cert 12 themes, violence, language 29.Jun.17

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© 2017 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall