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NEWBIES: If this is your first trip here (welcome!), here’s the QT on what these reviews are.
THIS WEEK: Third in the new Apes revival takes place five years after the last one. Caesar (Andy “Don’t call me Gollum” Serkis) and his not-so-merry band of simians try to avoid humans and find peace out of the forest while a crazy colonel (Woody “More than Hunger Games” Harrelson) hunts him and his kind down for nefarious purposes.
Screenplay by Mark Bomback & Matt Reeves, based on characters created by Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver (of RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES), from the original novel by Pierre Boulle. Directed by Matt Reeves.
- I said I wasn’t going to bother mentioning special effects and CG anymore since everything nowadays is top-notch, but this is truly special. Just the difference between DAWN and now is noticeable. Weta Digital’s apes make every superhero film look almost lame in comparison. Other than the human-like eyes (done on purpose so the audience can relate), you’d swear you are looking at ape actors. It’s that scary, especially in the extreme closeups. If this doesn’t win an Oscar, the awards are fixed!
- Some much-needed comic relief. Bad Ape (Steve Zahn) is cute and hilarious—they should make a MIDNIGHT RUN-type road-trip flick with him and Caesar driving across the country. Thankfully there are a few scattered smiles as well.
- Emotional depth—for those who care, there’s a lot of tenderness, bitterness, intensity and a few tear-jerker scenes. Caesar’s dream-sequences/hallucinations are effective.
- Strong suspense and themes. Unlike the last one, the focus here is less on action and more on character, doing the right thing, sacrifice for the greater good, family, loyalty, vengeance and most of all, perseverance. Plus, a good quarter-to-third of the film is an escape caper.
- A few cool Easter-egg-type tie-ins to both previous Ape films and the original 1968 Charlton Heston/Roddy McDowell version.
- Nice set design and cinematography—most of it takes place in the mountains during winter, and the camps for the apes and men look very convincing.
- Casting is the same as the last film (excellent) but the few new additions are good, including Amiah Miller as the speechless little girl and Ty Olsson as the “red donkey” (traitor apes that work with the humans against Caesar).
- Woody Harrelson makes a great villain. The exchanges between him and Serkis are intense and make you forget the likable doofus in CHEERS. (They also make you want to smash him over the head with beer bottles several times ’cause he’s such a jerk.) His comeuppance scene was unexpected and unique.
- Finally, an actual ending! Could be a sequel but for once, there’s nothing hanging.
- This one’s over two hours and definitely feels it. Much slower-paced and less action/battles, but hey, you got all that in the previous two.
- Suspension Of Disbelief Dept.: An average riding horse weighs around 1,200 pounds. (The heaviest can weigh up to 2,200, but that’s not the ones in the movie.) An average male silverback gorilla in the wild weighs 500 pounds. Industry-accepted load limit for an average horse is generally 15-20 percent of its weight, including the saddle (180-240 pounds). In other words, there’s no way a 500-pound gorilla is going to gallop thru the snow like a jockey, especially at the same pace as a horse carrying lighter chimps! It also looks kinda goofy.
- After the end credits of RISE, there’s hints that Koba is alive in the rubble. That’s not brought up in this one at all. We do see Koba again, but only in dreams/hallucinations.
- There’s a couple incidents of “forced non-explanation,” where an event or misunderstanding could have easily been avoided if a character just gave a quick explanation, but doesn’t because the script/plot (too obviously) needs him/her to keep silent.
- During Woody’s emotional speech about infected humans, I kept thinking, “ever hear the word ‘quarantine’?”
- More than one major character bites the dust. Though you kind of expected it (with “War” in the title), it’s still a big bummer.
- Since it ends, there’s no buttons during or after the credits.
- Apes have still not learned the beauty of beer!
Very different from the last one, but a good tie-up of the loose ends and overall story, while leaving things plausibly open for the later (older) original films. Despite the suspense and intense drama, there’s really no reason to pay big dough for the big screen, other than some of the panoramic and climactic battle shots. Save it for SPIDER-MAN and enjoy this one at home where you can watch all three together and get the full tale. And eat your own bananas!
DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed by Bru-Hed are not necessarily those of Wednesday’s Heroes, Mike Pascale, apes, horses, humans (infected and otherwise), psychos and future primitive hotties. Bru would get drunk with Bad Ape…in fact, he IS a bad ape, trapped in a beer-bellied bozo’s bod!