Never in my life has a film franchise (well, I guess in this case it would be rebooted but I digress) had a good first film, an even better second film, and a third film been an absolute cinematic masterpiece. I don’t count Lord of the Rings either because I always liked Fellowship of the Ring more than The Two Towers (so sue me). Improving upon a previous feature is a very hard feat, unless you are in your 25th picture like the 007 franchise. But somehow, these new Planet of the Apes movies have improve upon themselves. And not improved by tiny steps either, giant massive Mammoth size steps. WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES is not only a cinematic masterpiece, but it is one of the year’s best films (just like Dawn was a couple of years ago) and one of the best special effects films I have seen that don’t sacrifice story or tone to achieve it either.
If you haven’t seen RISE or DAWN yet…what in the fuck are you doing? Go watch them now and then go see this in theaters. Everything about it is precise filmmaking to a tee. Andy Serkis deserves some kind of supporting nomination or maybe a lifetime achievement award for all that he has done for motion capture performances. This is his best. Easily. He gives Caesar humanity and grace in motion capture that a lot of actors that can’t act worth shit could ever hope to achieve playing human beings. The special effects in this are absolutely seamless and at some points I really thought that Caesar and his family could be real.
To ruin any of this film would be a felony. The trailers do such a great job to thwart expectations and I only hope that future TV spots can do the same. All that the trailers let on is that a Colonel played by Woody Harrelson is after Caesar and his fellow apes. But there is so much more to the story. In fact, there are several twists and interesting story telling devices that kept me guessing while also trying its best to connect to the original Planet of the Apes films with Charlton Heston. Very interesting. And while some people like my friend Josh (you dummy if you are reading this) will think there is going to be an all out endless 30 minute War at the end of the film (honestly, that would be boring, like the Transformers film) the climax is actually smart, unexpected, thought provoking, and righteous. The whole film is amazing, from beginning to end. Not one single scene needed to be left out.
And Woody Harrelson makes one of the most interesting villains I have seen in cinema in awhile. He is ruthless, and merciless, while completely believe he is doing the right thing without any doubt in his mind. He doesn’t think he’s evil and doesn’t think he’s a monster, and he plays it absolutely convincingly. The movie doesn’t have a lot of dialogue, Caesar speaks, but most of the apes still use the sign language. I like that. If I had to complain about one thing in the film it’s on one scene where the apes seem like they are following Harrelson’s army way too close and it’s hard to believe they didn’t see them. Seems like that logic was sacrificed for a cool beach sun setting scene. But whatever, it was forgiven in a second.
I don’t want to talk much more about this film. Other than to say I liked Steve Zahn’s “Bad Ape” and he brought a lot of comic relief much needed in this sense of dread. It’s an amazing film, and if you don’t see it, you don’t know the power of an astonishing cinematic experience. Michael Giacchino provides one of his best scores. I’m still humming it at this moment. The cinematography is perfect. Everything is perfect. I don’t know where to rank it on my list, but it will be near the top. I can’t ape to watch it again. I’m in love with this picture.