Let’s talk reboots. It has become common practice to take an old franchise and bring it back up to date, like a chef’s twist on a classic dish. However, this can lead to a disastrous cause and effect of tarnishing the entire franchise, even if the originals we’re classics. Don’t believe me, how many times have you had to say, “the original” to describe a film? The newly revitalised Planet of the Apes reboot was one such franchise where I rarely paid attention to, not because I thought I was going to hate it, but because of a lack of history with the Planet of the Apes as an entirety. War for the Planet of the Apes is a film that slapped me in the face and made me regret not being interested, because War for the Planet of the Apes had my attention from beginning to end.
I have watched the previous two Planet of the Apes films and the growth of Caesar (Andy Serkis) is masterful, this is a character that you effortlessly identify with, characters that must fight but at the same time resent fighting are more interesting than someone who has to fight ad enjoys it because you get to see how their internal struggle define them and sometimes break them.
One of the film major standouts is it influence. Since this is a war, you’ll be able to easily identify the similarities with Nazi ideology and slavery. Traditionally, Nazism and slavery are the two most overused sources of inspiration for any film with two opposite sides yet they haven’t grown old on us and continue to stay original, the answer as to why is quite simple really, they happened. The actions that the humans and some ape characters make in this film, whether they’re making apes work or side with the humans against their will as well as torturing apes with whips, these things happened which make their actions more believable. Taking inspiration from history is something the director can easily work with rather than making something up.
Parallels are important in understanding the characters of War of the Planet of the Apes. There are two main parallels that are the most impressive the firs being between Caesar and The Colonel (Woody Harrelson). Author Robert Mckee says “A protagonist can only be as intellectually fascinating and emotionally compelling as the forces of antagonism make them”, in the case of War for the Planet of the Apes, the character of The Colonel makes for a great antagonist because he and Caesar have gone through the same life changing event and it has taken them down separate paths. Making the antagonist a reflection of what the protagonist could have become is something that creates a strong appetite for conflict.
The next parallel is between Maurice (Karin Konoval) and the little girl Nova (Amiah Miller). Both characters are the wisest of their species in the film because they have compassion and are the films primary peacekeepers. There is a scene where Maurice and Nova are communicating and in the scene Nova is wearing a big parka jacket with a wide hood. The filmmakers have made the decision to show you this parallel through costume design as the two are of similar appearance in the scene. Just the tiniest details speak so much in this film which has the overall effect of care and downright amazing.
The motion capture is one of the best that has ever been put to screen. The time taken to polish the apes to make them real is appreciated here. You often hear people say that a film is a technological marvel, but this is because they market them as having technological advances that aren’t that spectacular at all. Believe me when I say that War for the Planet of the Apes is a technological marvel. Its musical score is also a marvel, the films composer Michael Giachino has created probably one of the best film scores of this year.
There are only really two issues I have with this film, the first being that there are segments of exposition dialogue to explain what is happening and what has happened, the second being that there is an avalanche scene in this film that to me felt a little bit deus ex machina, I’m not too sure if I missed something but watching it felt a little too convenient and forces the film to quickly solve its main plot situation.
Normally the third film in a trilogy is almost never nearly as good as its predecessors, the reason being is that every time you make another film of a franchise you knock out situations or emotional places to where you could go with it. Watching War for the Planet of the Apes and the two previous films, this franchise is the example of a smooth transition between films. War for the Planet of the Apes has catapulted my appreciation for the Planet of the Apes reboots into a favourite of mine, when a film can do all that and more, is reminds you why you love films and the craft of film-making.