4 / 5
Back in 2011, if you would have told me, or anyone that a prequel series to The Planet of the Apes would be one of most consistent movie trilogies with one of the most engaging movie characters in a while, hardly anyone would have believed you.
Yet here we are, the third movie where we see how we get the to the status of Apes being the rulers of the planet. Along the way we’ve had the development of of very engaging character, seen the mastery of a special effects art-form and been dealt engaging scenarios. I certainly wouldn’t have guessed this.
Our status is that Caesar and his group of apes are on the move and looking for a new place to call home. They need to move because of the war which was ignited in the last movie. They seem to have found an ideal place but the night before they move-out a human platoon invades and kills Caesars wife and eldest son. The one who killed them and the leader of the humans is a man simply referred to as The Colonel (Woody Harelson). Now Caesar sends his apes off to their home but he cannot go with them, he must have his revenge.
The digital effects in producing these apes continues to impress beyond measure. We are able to see (roughly a hundred) apes onscreen at the same time, of all different species (gorilla, orangutan, chimp etc.) and each of them has something distinctive about them (a scar, different colour eyes etc.) so we can recognise them. As well as that they take the texturing of the fur and present all kinds of different variables. Dry and windy, raining and damp and others with flakes of snow resting on them. All of these are rendered in razor sharp detail that pushes the line of what we can distinguish between an effect and live action.
But beyond the surface level of these apes it’s the motion-capture technology and the actors within it that are truly bringing these characters to life. The most notable is of course Andy Serkis as Caesar who has mastered the art of motion capture, he is able to figure out the mentality of a character, even a species and match them with their walk and movement. But he goes a step deeper than that, he gets deep into the characters mentality and allows it to shine through little moments of shrugs or facial movements.
Even though this movie is about conflict and has “War” in the title there are many scenes that are quiet and some even that go by without any spoken words of dialog. This movie understands that in order for the action to matter you must first have moments of calm and build a connection with the characters that doesn’t come through them screaming and shooting a gun constantly.
Throughout the story there’s quite a few heavy servings of Christ symbolism. Not something I’m a fan of. The symbolism can work, however only sparingly and with a light touch. This doesn’t and because of that it comes off heavy handed. We see it, know exactly what they are doing and are taken out of the moment.
All three of these movies have never forgotten one thing, that there is good an evil on both sides. There are the greedy, the righteous and the hateful and they all populate either side. These movies understand humanity better than most movies that have come out to portray any conflict.
These movies have shown the birth and establishment of a new species that have had to struggle to survive and other moments where peace might have been a possibility but others couldn’t let it happen and how that war comes with server cost to all. These movie are surprisingly some of the most engaging cinema to come out in the last decade.