War For The Planet of The Apes(2017)
Director : Matt Reeves
Genre : Science-Fiction
"Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out - those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned."-John 5:28-29[The Bible]
There is a belief that when God placed humans on the earth, he did not intend it to be merely a proving ground for future life in another realm. He created humans to live forever on the earth. Although physically and mentally perfect, the first human couple rebelled against God. As a result, they lost the prospect of eternal life for themselves and brought sin and death to all of their descendants.
The third installment in the Planet of The Apes rebooted series marks director Matt Reeves' return to the franchise after he helmed the emotionally resonating Dawn For The Planet of The Apes. If the first film starring James Franco gave us a better-than-expected vivid, violent tale of humanoid ape Caesar's rise to power, then Matt Reeves' introduction to the franchise in the second part gave us a technically impressive and viscerally exciting take on diplomacy, deterrence, law and leadership, using a significantly simian cast of characters. With the third film, Matt Reeves manages to maintain a simmering level of tension with a truly EPIC climax of Biblical proportions.
There is a moment in the film when Caesar and the mysterious Colonel(Woody Harrelson) of a disbanded military team lock eyes for the very first time. As they size each other up, you hear the beat of war drums in the background. It is an incredibly powerful moment, foreshadowing the carnage that's to follow. It even reminded me of the first time Batman encounters Bane in The Dark Knight Rises(2012). There are many such similarities to Christopher Nolan's strong conclusion to The Dark Knight trilogy. Take for instance the fact that both, Caesar and Batman are forced to watch how everything they once stood for, come to the ground, thereby tearing apart their fundamental sole purpose, before they can muster whatever ounce of spirit they have left, and rise up again. If Batman was haunted by the ghost of Ra's al Ghul, then the shadow of Koba, the scarred ape from the second part who previously led a failed coup against Caesar, continues to cloud Caesar's conscience.
Andy Serkis deserves the Oscar. Period. Now a veteran in performance capture roles comprising motion capture acting, animation and voice work for some of the most iconic computer-generated characters such as Gollum in The Lord of The Rings(2001-2003) film trilogy, King Kong in the 2005 film by the same name, Captain Haddock in Steven Spielberg's The Adventures of Tintin(2011), he breathes life into Caesar one last time. Like in the previous films, it's a mesmerizing performance, and you can never possibly point out where the human ends and the effects begin to take over. Getting humiliated, broken, seething with anger, to just getting tired of the senseless brutality and wanting it all to end, viewers don't just get to see Andy's performance but actually experience his arc. He even gets to channel Charlton Heston's Moses from The Ten Commandments(1956), as he leads an exodus.
"I've seen horrors... horrors that you've seen. But you have no right to call me a murderer. You have a right to kill me. You have a right to do that... but you have no right to judge me. It's impossible for words to describe what is necessary for those who do not know what horror means. Horror... horror has a face... and you must make a friend of horror. Horror and moral terror are your friends. If they are not, then they are enemies to be feared."
Nearly four decades after Marlon Brando delivered those chilling words in Francis Ford Coppola's epic war film Apocalypse Now(1979), Woody Harrelson gives us his own take on the darkness of the human psyche. Like Marlon's character, he is also depicted as a rogue military leader enjoying an almost godlike status. There is a raw, manic energy to Woody's acting, one that makes you empathize with his character despite his black heart. It's a visceral performance, one that demands Woody Harrelson to strip of all his quirkyness for which he is known for, one that requires him to confront his innermost primal fears, and bare his soul to the devil. There is an a very interesting dynamic established between his and Caesar's character, one that's not too different from the one between Alec Guiness's British commander and Sessue Hayakawa prison camp colonel in The Bridge on The River Kwai(1957).
If you are a cine-geek, you'll be able to spot plenty of other film references. There are plenty of homages including the graffiti title and The Ride of The Valkyries sequence from Apocalypse Now. The prison encampment and quarantine stuff reminds of Schindler's List(1993), The Great Escape(1963), and The Bridge on The River Kwai. The scene where a battle-weary Caesar sets of on a journey with a few trusted comrades ties to Clint Eastwood's western The Outlaw Josey Wales(1976). The film's climax also imbues Biblical themes from The Ten Commandments and Benhur(1959).
At a time when the world might perhaps slip into a third world war, Matt Reeves' story about the inevitable war has never been more relevant, and presents us a very bleak perspective of what sort of world we may have to grapple with should the inevitable happen. It's a very audacious, violent and disquieting film, one that offers very little hope for mankind in the face of God's wrath. It is that very rare film that uses CGI for spectacle, and yet exercises restraint to allow a big-bidget entertainer like this one to cement its place in pop-culture history.
I'm going with 4/5.