War for the Planet of the Apes, 2017.
Directed by Matt Reeves.
Starring Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn, Amiah Miller, Judy Greer, Karin Konoval, Terry Notary, Michael Adamthwaite, Gabriel Chavarria, Max Lloyd-Jones, Sara Canning, Aleks Paunovic, and Chad Rook.
After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mythic quest to avenge his kind.
The conclusion to a trilogy can be a tough thing to pull off, but Matt Reeves succeeds in making War for the Planet of the Apes a satisfying end to the rebooted franchise with a stellar performance from Andy Serkis as the ape leader Caesar.
The best thing about the film is Andy Serkis. He delivers an emotional performance from start to finish, giving his all as Caesar. The most impressive thing about his performance isn’t how he delivers his lines, but the way he uses his body language and facial expressions to convey Caesar’s emotions and thought process. We can tell what he’s thinking or feeling before he even says it thanks to Serkis.
Woody Harrelson makes a compelling antagonist as the cold and mysterious Colonel. He doesn’t get quite as much screentime as one would think, but he utilizes every moment he does have to create a rounded performance. He doesn’t chew the scenery with moustache-twirling villainy, but adds depth to the Colonel by making him and his point of view come across, even if you disagree with his brand of ‘protecting’ the human race.
The other supporting characters all do very well too, with Karin Konoval’s Maurice giving the film another strong performance from a motion-capture actor. However, its Amiah Miller’s Nova who comes closest to stealing the show from Serkis. Through her silent performance, she is able to convey a lot of emotion and pulls you in. In many ways, Miller’s Nova is the heart of the film.
The only negative to the cast is Steve Zahn’s Bad Ape, who comes across as a little too annoying or slapstick. Some of the comedic bits involving Bad Ape feel abrupt and go against the flow of the film, adding levity for levity’s sake rather than making it an earned moment.
What impressed me most about the film, though, is from a technical aspect. The film’s cinematography is gorgeous, with some beautiful scenery and camera work to make great use of the landscape and action. Reeves’ emphasis on close-ups and facial shots help signify the actor’s performances. The film’s score was similarly impressive. Michael Giacchino’s scores haven’t always stood out in other films, but he makes the score almost a character unto itself, carrying the scenes emotional progression and stakes. On a note of the progression, though, that is perhaps the film’s best aspects. War for the Planet of the Apes is its heavy reliance on silence, letting the actors, cinematography or score speak for itself as it moved the story along.
War for the Planet of the Apes is a fitting conclusion to the trilogy with some emotional and thoughtful performances from Serkis and the rest of the cast. The filmmaking is great and draws you deeper into the story with its emphasis on the actor’s talents. It’s a satisfying close to this sci-fi trilogy.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★