War For the Planet of the Apes ⭐⭐⭐½

This summer’s threequels continue, but instead of running out of steam like a lot of them have, WFTPOTA has held up its quality, both technically and narratively speaking and proves a strong film in its own right within the prequel trilogy. Combining the talents of Andy Serkis with the best in motion-capture technology, Caesar remains a marvel of a creature that’s not only flesh and blood but has real complexities and depth. Other than some background monkeys that could do with a little more finesse, the film’s technical achievement is outstanding as expected, but what’s more notable this time are the narrative choices made by Matt Reeves who once again directs and also co-writes. Perhaps the ‘War’ in the title is a little misleading and Revenge on the Planet of the Apes might be more appropriate. The midsection of the film tracks Caesar’s journey to find Woody Harrelson’s Kurtz-like Colonel, allowing much screen time and emotional space to explore humanitarian and existential issues and becomes a more personal and intimate film. Still, it cleverly invokes classic genre films such as Saving Private Ryan, Schindler’s List, The Great Escape and of course, Apocalypse Now, and the explosive and exciting war sequences book-ending the film will satisfy audience looking for their summer action thrills. By focusing much more on the Apes’ side of the conflict and adding two new characters, one of which is mute, there is not much spoken dialogue, and the resulting quietness coupled with some very inspired and stylish directorial choices Reeves made in playing out certain action scenes only to music and muffled sound effects, creates a poetic sense of poignancy and turns the film into something more thoughtful, intriguing and appealing than what you would expect.

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