WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES Review

War for the Planet of the Apes (2017) 
A Review By Ben Hunter
4/5 Stars 

GET TO THE POINT BEN! 

It stays true to its family and I enjoyed it. But nowhere close to what I had hoped for. 

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“You, who are reading me now, are a different breed … I hope a better one. I leave the 20th century with no regrets, but … one more thing, if anybody's listening, that is. Nothing scientific. It’s ... purely personal. But seen from out here, everything seems different. Time bends. Space is ... boundless. It squashes a man's ego. I feel lonely. That's about it. Tell me, though, does man, that marvel of the universe, that glorious paradox who sent me to the stars, still make war against his brother? Keep his neighbor's children starving?” -Planet of the Apes (1968) 

Does man still put himself before others? Does his wisdom still walk hand in hand with his idiocy? Is he still a war like creature who brings battle to everything around him? … Even himself? 

The quest to save the Apes begins!

Have we become so divided that even bringing up the subject of helping others or any subject that seems brainless of what we should do still create a dichotomy? In today’s heavily sensitive political climate, even this, helping others, is a topic that we still double down on the wedge of the divide. Making sure our house is in order before we try to save the world, but we can do both at the same time, and is that really true, how much is enough, are we leaving ourselves vulnerable to danger, and eventual betrayal from within from being so open, and on and on down the rabbit hole, accomplishing nothing leaving us right where we began. 
Backwards and further in reverse we superfluously trek. Unconsciously navigating to our primitive state causing our ancestors and forefathers to turn in their graves. As our closest relative on the food chain realizes this, learns civility, and treks forward in progress. Reversing the roles, reigning supreme, creating a planet … of apes. 

This is the awakening story that director Matt Reeves embarks on to encapsulate in his sequel to finish off the recent trilogy of this latest take of this beautiful story of “make love, not war”. 

Caesar (Andy Serkis) reprises his role as the leader of this new breed of apes who’ve taken the special serum and have learned to speak and hold their own better than humans. With a war on the horizon due to one of the apes unable to release his hatred of the humans (the plot of the last installment) Caesar does all he can to minimize the casualties and prevent the war as much as possible to lead his tribe into the promised land of peace and serenity. And I must say, hats off to director Reeves, the scribe team of Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver, and Serkis himself on physically becoming the intelligent chimpanzee to make a resounding portrayal of a character! Motion capture character actors need to be recognized come awards season as Andy Serkis has opened the door. Caesar is such a well rounded, totaled with conflict and pain in addition to the positive attributes, complete character! Once again circling the remnants of the original to sprinkle into this new rendition with honor and respect, not crapping all over the beauty of what started all the magic a spring away from half a century later. 

Andy Serkis reprises his role, elevating the wonder of motion capture technology, as the intelligent head ape, Caesar!

So much to make one smile in reminiscent of the original! Caesar goes without saying, most people probably think he was originally created for this new saga. But after 2 full films now of following him, he shared the spotlight with … NOVA!! In natural reveal of anticipation of my most sought out film of 2017, I discovered she’d be included in this final chapter! My gosh, it felt like I was reading the novel all over again and becoming mesmerized once more! Instead of a primitive human, Adam & Eve-like, or circa Raquel Welch via the 1960’s/Nova’s original intent, instead of that she was revitalized as a child. A little girl caught in the infection of this new narrative and fails to speak as a result of many humans going backwards as the ape progress. So different but still kind of the same, all in respect of the original material! When she (Amiah Miller) was on screen, the protective instincts kicked in. The future father within me immediately latched out to her and took complete interest in her and her well being. Just like in the similar mating manner of the original. When Linda Harrison (the original Nova) look worried or feared for survival, or naturally gravitated towards the stronger/alpha male, I couldn’t help but take instant care for her. Just as I did in the book. Proof that this new update perfectly works. The rehashing of character names, Caesar, Nova, Cornelius, Blue Eyes, … the importance of keeping the theme of love not war to make sure we don’t go backwards, to even the doll, the little squeaks to the big brushes of similarity, all made me smile and enjoy the complete mixture of the old and the new of this innovative remake of an experience! I secretly hoped the doll would sequel. 

I love the hand holding style that director Matt Reeves possessed for these films. His horror background truly came in handy for this voyage. He takes his time to ease me into one point and onto the next. Correlating the information, stringing it along with a thickness to hold me upright all throughout the journey. For two films now this was the case. Come time for War, that thick bridge for me to walk upon between plot points felt more like a string this go round. Despite the fact that when I reached that next point, I enjoyed it when I arrived. So we’re left with nice parts that don’t exuberantly shoot this narrative into my heart, “but still do a decent job nonetheless”. Which makes me kind of sad as this was my most anticipated film of 2017. A handful of trilogies fall into this where the 3rd and final installment fails to live up to its predecessors but does a good job regardless (Return of the Jedi, The Dark Knight Rises). So I loved how Nova learned to sign with the apes and how director Reeves takes us by the hand to emphasize this, and how cinematic, dramatic, and combined with the thematic elements of filmmaking such as for a successful second time now, Michael Giacchino’s alluring score, how this is such a BEAUTIFUL moment of a girl simply asking for water and learning how she’s going to manage her new way of life … this scene though, amongst others, is really it. Nothing more to exuberantly shoot the narrative into my heart. A string that I successfully make it to the next point because of, but don’t luxuriously walk perfectly across a crafted bridge or highway to leisurely arrive there either. This let me down slightly as I wanted more. Reeves even defied logic a bit to make sure he kept his triumphant ending in tact. All to slightly hang my head in blunder, but as I said, still does a decent job nonetheless. I’m still eager like a little school girl for his next endeavor! So, regretfully: Dawn, Rise, War, in that order. 
Introducing Amiah Miller as the brilliantly rehashed Nova.

My steak was cooked to perfection, medium rare, but my vegetables were a little over steamed, potatoes needed butter, and my wine was a little flat, all with a waiter who regretfully hated his job and is taking it out on my date and I. But after he and I have a brief man to man and explain that my girl and I are celebrating our anniversary, the night goes much much better. We even got a free dessert with the restaurant’s apologies! But this night doesn’t compare in even the slightest to that date we had over candlelight outlooking the moonlit ocean with perfect cuisine and service (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes). Thus, the “bad” experience isn’t ruined and not really a bad one at all. Even though you can point out all the negativity of the evening and make it seem like it sucked. No, my girl smiled in the end, kissed me and told me she had a great time. 
I’m positive Hollywood, like a child told not to touch anything while left alone in a candy store, will let this rest for maybe a decade before they decide pick it up again and run with it in a new and innovative way to re-introduce a new generation to the beauty and wonder of the story of the apes. To instruct us all once again to love one another and not react initially with hate. 

“Apes! … Together! … Strong!” 

United we stand … you know the rest. 

War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)
Sci-Fi Action/Adventure, 140 Minutes, PG-13
Based on the Novel By: Pierre Boule
Based on Characters Created By: Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver
Screenplay By: Mark Bomback & Matt Reeves
Directed By: Matt Reeves
Cast: Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn, Karin Konoval, Amiah Miller, Terry Notary, Ty Olsson, Michael Adamthwaite, & Toby Kebell 

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