Thursday, July 27, 2017

War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)

Director: Matt Reeves

Writers: Mark Bomback, Matt Reeves

Composer: Michael Giacchino

Starring: Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn, Karin Konoval, Amiah Miller, Terry Notary, Ty Olsson, Michael Adamthwaite, Toby Kebbell, Gabriel Chavarria, Judy Greer, Sara Canning, Devyn Dalton, Aleks Paunovic, Alessandro Juliani, Max Lloyd-Jones

More info: IMDb

Tagline: For freedom. For family. For the planet.

Plot: After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mythic quest to avenge his kind.

My rating:  8/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.

I respect the filmmakers of this series for putting so much care into them.  The sequels have minor flaws (or maybe even big ones but I've only seen them once) but they're well made and entertaining.  The CGI keeps getting better.  It's remarkable how real the apes appear.  Like the previous installments, there is emotional weight that is earned because you care about the characters.  The bad guy, The Colonel (Harrelson), isn't a strong character but I suppose he doesn't need to have much more than one dimension as he's simply an excuse to put the apes in the position they're in.  The ending is fine I guess.  More on that in a sec.  Michael Giacchino knocks the music score out of the park again.  This time I heard a heavy John Barry influence (70s/80s era) in his main theme in the first half of the film.  I loved it.  This guy is an amazing talent and he's the most exciting composer I've heard since Danny Elfman hit the ground running in the late 80s.  The more I think about this more I'm about to sound like a hater but the bottom line is the apes are incredibly well done inside and out.  They have great, distinguishable personalities and I care about them.  I'm looking forward to seeing this and the previous one again.  I hope they hold up.


Now that I've had half a day of thinking about this movie the more I think the writers went in the wrong direction.  You shouldn't have a title like this and not have the movie about it.  There is no war for a planet of apes.  The apes are building a wall for The Colonel to keep his human enemies out.  The apes escape and would've gotten away without any conflict if it hadn't been for the bad timing of the humans doing battle and the apes were stuck in the middle.  There is no war and the apes aren't fighting it (save for a little fight here and there).  Why is The Colonel at war with these other guys from the North?  Is he that dumb that he thinks he can win a battle cornered with his back to the mountains?  I get that he's holed up in a weapons dump but you've only got one way out and that's going to be blocked by your enemy and they've got tanks and helicopters.  That made no sense at all.  And then there's the big reason for The Colonel attacking the apes so that he can capture them to make them slaves to build his wall for protection against the tanks and artillery?  That's weak.  And how about Caesar's kid coming back with the scouting party at the beginning of the film with a bag of sand telling them they've found a great place for them to live (you know, the desert which is where we found them in the 1968 original film)?  Would apes really rather live in the desert where there are few trees?  Wouldn't, oh you know, the forest or jungle be more suitable?  It's a weak way to have this one link to the '68 film as if there were not going to be any more Apes movies.  But you could also make the case that at least they tried. 

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