Starring Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Judy Greer, Amiah Miller, Steve Zahn, Terry Notary, Karin Konoval, Michael Adamthwaite, Aleks Paunovic, Ty Olsson
Screenplay by Matt Reeves and Mark Bomback
Directed by Matt Reeves
Reviewed by Patrick & Paul Gibbs
Out of Four
|Andy Serkis as Ceasar|
In a summer that has overall been quite lackluster, War for the Planet of the Apes easily stands out as fiercely intelligent, engaging and stunningly emotional, but truthfully it would stand out in any summer. The performances and pacing could not be better, and this movie pulls you in to the intensity of its world to the point where you feel like you are right inside it (not in terms of any kind of cinéma vérité style, but rather in the sense that you become completely absorbed in every single moment as if it was real life.). In stark contrast to fifth entries in the Pirates of the Caribbean and Transformers series that lazily rely on following the same tired formula and leaving us sick to death of them, Apes achieves the mark of a great trilogy by cementing the fact that each chapter has had its own unique feel and structure while at the same time honoring the rich characters and themes that have recurred throughout.
Director Matt Reeves approaches the film with a strong sense of respect for the source material and for the apes as fully realized characters, never making a distinction between them and the human characters (more so even than in Dawn, this film follows the apes as the sole protagonists from beginning to end.). The script by Reeves and Mark Bomback (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Live Free or Die Hard, Unstoppable) is uncompromising and respects the intelligence of the audience, letting the exposition flow naturally and unfold as the story progresses.
Michael Giacchino delivers ones of his most inspired scores (comparable to Star Trek and Up) mixing suspense with melancholy and melding it all into something truly beautiful. From the opening moment (which we refuse to spoil), Giacchino's score establishes itself as a major presence in the film, and it could very well get him another Oscar nomination. Cinematographer Michael Seresin (Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) is a master with atmospheric lighting and he is in top form here.
It's a bit sad to see this outstanding series (arguably the best prequel trilogy ever made) come to an end, but it's such a satisfying and moving one that it leaves little room for complaints. That's not to say that it's a happy film: there's a lot of brutality and you may feel emotionally exhausted afterwards. But you'll also feel enriched by the boldness and beauty of this groundbreaking cinematic triumph, and hopefully you will leave the theater thinking and talking about what you just saw, and how it relates to where we are headed as a society. After all, isn't that what Planet of the Apes at its best has always been about?
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