When all’s said and done, how will the human race go out; with a bang or a whimper?
War For the Planet of the Apes concludes its revived trilogy with the same message as its predecessors; it will be by our own hand.
The irony and humour is not lost on me, that one of the more insightful films about human nature and how we treat our world in the last ten years is one that features an entire other species in the lead role. How absurd is it that a movie about talking apes who swing from trees and cast arrows upon their enemies like rain could actually be good, let alone better than a vast majority of other blockbusters?
As a standalone film, and as a conclusion to a trilogy, War succeeds. Strangely evocative of Logan, another trilogy-finale about the merits of revenge, power, family and mortality, it seems to thrive off of a tight script with plenty of room for the performances to do the bulk of the work.
Andy Serkis, returning as ape-leader Caesar, deserves an award for his performance. While the debate had raged around much of Serkis’ career, the motion-capture that the actor has used through his most memorable performances seems only only to assist his inherent talent. Every twitch of his face is captured and animated into the furrowed brow of a weathered general. Caesar’s lumbering gait as a wounded chimpanzee warrior can only be the result of Serkis’ masterful control of his body. How much can it be applauded when the cinematography and the digital effects contribute to the performance’s success so directly?
I would argue that it can only be likened to similar situations, and the scope of War provides many to contrast with Serkis and Caesar; there are far more named apes than humans, and while none are glaringly bad or even noticeable, Serkis operates on an entire other level.
Many a film has had a powerful lead but ultimately failed because of other elements, but War seems perfect across the board. The ruthless and tyrannical Colonel is Caesar’s greatest opponent, and Woody Harrelson obliterates every scene he is in. A magnetic presence, intimidating even the audience, Harrelson uses the little screen time he is given to remind audiences how truly amazing an actor he can be.
One scene in particular, a confrontation between Caesar and the Colonel, is specifically epic and memorable. Punctuating each line with believable emotion, the two leaders discuss their roles in history, and how individuals act when they are aware of the ever-present judgement of future generations.
Revealing the deepest level of the Colonel’s pathology and Caesar’s omnipresent struggle against the seemingly universal forces of revenge and death, the 10 minute debate is oscar-worthy in itself.
The film, similarly and incredulously, is worthy of the industry’s highest honors. In a great year for film, one the greatest has emerged in War For The Planet Of The Apes.
Better Than: Transformers 5: like, seriously — don’t see Transformers
Not As Good As: Get Out ,one of the few films I would place slightly ahead of War in 2017
You May Also Like: Logan
Featured image courtesy 20th Century Fox (2017).