War for the Planet of the Apes

War for the Planet of the Apes
(Matt Reeves, 2017)
Rating: 4/5
Reviewed by Dave Lancaster
Summary: A groundbreaking narrative that fuses epic special effects with a pulsing human heart, War for the Planet of the Apes is a roaring success.
More so than The Lord of the Rings, King Kong, The Hobbit and Avatar, this is the trilogy that may well be remembered as truly groundbreaking in its approach to special effects. Dominated by Andy Serkis' performance as revolutionary talking ape Caesar, the reboot of the Planet of the Apes franchise paved the way for motion capture techniques that didn't just mimic human movement but rather acted as a canvas for emotions as well.
War for the Planet of the Apes, the third in the series, inevitably has the most impressive effects of the bunch but this isn't just some overblown display of a $150m budget gone wild. It's actually a rather tender picture. This is surprising considering that it's populated by largely wordless animals and it's a major studio tentpole film positioned for the summer blockbuster crowd.
There are hints of David Lean's Bridge on the River Kwai and Masakai Kobayashi's Human Condition trilogy here - high praise indeed but not undeserved. There are real themes explored here: humanity's place on a planet that they turned into a massive petri dish, family honour that borders on mafia levels of brutality, survival of the fittest, alienation, the spoils of war…
When Caesar faces off against Woody Harrelson's alcoholic, demented Colonel who is leading his own rebellion against his once fellow humans, it feels less like a sci-fi fantasy and more like a modern retelling of Martin Sheen and Marlon Brando's showdown in Coppola's Apocalypse Now. This is a film that works on plenty of levels - you can read as much or as little as you'd like to.
So whether you're after a thinking man's action film or a spot of primal escapism, War for the Planet of the Apes roars louder and simmers more menacingly than any other popcorn picture this year.
WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES is available on Digital on 10th November and 4K Ultra HD™, 3D Blu-ray™, Blu-ray™ and DVD on 27th November, from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.

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