War for the Planet of the Apes Screen 86 of 14 reviews

War for the Planet of the Apes

2017

War for the Planet of the Apes Poster
  • A rich, complicated entry in a franchise that has always been willing to strain for significance, this takes full advantage of CGI character-creating technology, which is evolving more rapidly than its sapient apes. Watching all three of the recent Apes films in succession, the progress of motion-capture performance in a relatively short time is as astonishing as the leap in sound recording between The Jazz Singer (1927) and King Kong(1933).

  • This elaborate, largely silent language is one of the more fascinating aspects of the film, simultaneously invoking both empathy and alienation. Another variation on this theme is articulated through the numerous dramatic close-ups of simian visages, upon which the tiniest facial inflections are transmitted from the production’s human actors to the splendidly textured digital characters via advanced motion-capture systems.

  • There, I’ve said it: “real emotional depth,” and in a CGI spectacle. This itself is surely some kind of barrier broken, and other moments in the movie which pack similar dramatic clout—such as a poignant last encounter between Caesar and the Colonel, as we realize that humanity’s die is cast. The new trilogy seems to have hit an elusive sweet spot in restoring emotion to the cinema of spectacle through the image itself, and it’s largely to do with the creation of its hybrid creatures.

  • Viewers expecting an epic clash between two equally vicious primate factions may be surprised — though not, I imagine, disappointed — by the eerie calm that hangs over this picture, and by the grace and restraint with which the writer-director Matt Reeves guides the story from its explosive beginning to its elegiac finale.

  • It's a formidable achievement: not just the rare last chapter in a trilogy that maintains the high quality of the first two, but a visually lush, heart-pounding summer action movie that dares to ask hard questions about the struggle between good and evil—both on the larger social scale and within each individual—and the fate of life on Earth.

  • The movie’s bold, irreverent use of movie mythology, from The Bridge on the River Kwai to Apocalypse Now, adds to the stirring, immersive entertainment. Michael Giacchino’s inventive score and Michael Seresin’s capacious cinematography propel Reeves and Caesar’s followers to the Promised Land.

  • The bigger movies get, somehow the smaller we get. Increasingly elaborate special effects, marathon-length runtimes, plots that sprawl off the rails within the first 20 minutes... But Matt Reeves’ War for the Planet of the Apes is something else, a summer blockbuster that treats its audience as primates of a higher order. It’s not going to change the summer-blockbuster landscape single-handedly, but at least it comes by its thrills honestly: This is a spectacle that trusts us to think.

  • For the third Planet of the Apes film – and final, at least in this current iteration – director Matt Reeves has swung out on a limb again to deliver a clever, well-acted summer blockbuster which is an involving cross between a classic Western revenge and a war movie, dropping somewhere between The Searchers, Platoon and Watership Down, if that can be imagined.

  • Reeves likes his stuff dark — visually, thematically, narratively — and now he’s plunged us headlong into the gloom. War for the Planet of the Apes is certainly the most melancholy tentpole since…well, since Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. The subject matter may well lend itself to melodrama and spectacle, and while Reeves never skimps on suspense or emotion or epic imagery, he also understands the power of restraint, of _quiet_.

  • It’s in this horse-opera mode that it finds its most rewarding rhythms: in the parallels between Caesar’s woodland stronghold and the archetypal frontier settlements of Western fiction; in the ape posse, bent on vengeance, traversing landscapes clothed in snow and bristling with California red fir and silver pine, spooking human stragglers, and running across fresh graves as they search for the nameless colonel and try to piece together why the humans are killing each other.

  • The psychological wars that have made the prequels simmer with tightly wound tensions are given their most cutting treatment yet.

  • It’s a shame that War feels the need to stack the deck by making the movie’s handful of humans cartoonishly evil, complexity be damned. That might not feel so misguided had director Matt Reeves—who previously directed Dawn, and co-wrote the screenplay with Mark Bomback—not conceived this third chapter as a deadly serious homage to various classic war films.

  • It’s been funny to note that all this CGI magic is performed in favor of characters who for the most part don’t add up to much more than basic tropes. That is not... what happens in a great genre movie — not even a great blockbuster, not that anyone can remember what that means. [The movie] tries to surpass our expectations of blockbusters, and that’s really too bad: The best movie it could possibly have been — a delicious but thoughtful thrill ride — is the one it’s refusing to be.

  • The intent of the film is noble, and even though the special effects exemplify the heady wonders of digital technology, there’s still something naggingly synthetic about it all.

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