Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn
At some point, the balance of our planet turned, and everything down to the title ofWar for the Planet of the Apesmakes this abundantly clear.Where Earth was once a human planet, and the time of apes rose and dawned, now the tide has shifted. Now humanity must affirm itself against a civilization sliding away from it by the day. If the first two films argued for mankinds inability to restrain itself from pursuing a final reckoning, this is a film about what happens when mankind gets everything it asked for and more still. This is no longer a planet of humans, it is a planet of apes. Each encounter simply inches both species further beyond the rubicon theyve already crossed.
War for the Planet of the Apes is a bleak summer blockbuster even by the increasingly nihilistic standards of the last two installments. One film envisioned a world in which humanitys desperation to stave off old age begat something dangerous, and then another saw man blow past a series of final exits on its way to obsolescence. Much of humanity has perished by the time the film begins, and the majority of those remaining have been driven mad by survivalism, enlisted into military tribes of ape hunters. Where the apes once lived in fear of humanity, now humanity lives in fear of its own future.
In this same way, Caesar (Andy Serkis) worries about what will come of the apes. Mankinds numbers may be dwindling, but their desperation has made their armies vicious. Even at the beginning of War, Caesar still attempts to reach some kind of armistice, knowing how futile his attempts will likely be. When a squadron of humans moves hazardously close to their long-held encampment in the woods, Caesar sends them away with a clear warning: Leave us the woods, and the killing can stop. But for The Colonel (Woody Harrelson), there is no end as long as a single ape continues to walk the Earth. Soon the bloodshed of so many battlefields follows the apes home, and Caesar is forced to deal with the displacement of his kin, and the violent road to any future they might have.
The terror of Planet of the Apes as a concept was always borne from mans anxiety about its end. From its birth during Vietnam to its post-apocalyptic echoes of a nuclear holocaust, the series has long been rooted in the possibility of man destroying itself as a matter of natural course. War takes that concept to its logical ends, but one of director Matt Reeves many bold choices (alongside co-writer Mark Bomback) is to frame much of the pivotal human drama in the films background. There are only two notable human characters in the entire film, and one of them is Harrelsons Colonel, a Kurtzian type who believes that humans as they once existed cannot peaceably coexist in a world with the evolved ape. The other is a young girl, Nova (Amiah Miller), whos been left silent by forces that War takes its time in teasing out.
This is a patient film, so much so that War feels nearly radical by modern Hollywood standards. As with Dawn, the apes preferred communication mode of sign language allows for Reeves to build the films power out of conspicuous quiet. When the film spends extended periods of time unfolding its tale with little (spoken) dialogue, the remarkably acute sound design lets the auspicious presence of silence dominate the mix. Where once the sounds of ape-human strife could be heard off in the distance, or dominated the screen, Reeves imagines an emptier world, where the absence of death and the accompanying vacuum of sound fosters its own kind of dread. Accordingly, when fighting does arise and the film grows more hectic, its all the more deafening for Reeves keen manipulation of these dynamics.
Even the new introductions have an aura of sadness around them. Nova is only discovered in the wake of tragedy, and her kindness to the apes is understandably returned with a mixture of empathy and looming unease. Bad Ape (Steve Zahn) offers another perspective on the war, from an ape left to fend for himself without the close-quarters decency of Caesars tribe. That hes rattled to the point of constant alarm is hardly surprising, although Reeves finds a handful of lightly comic moments out of the character throughout. Those are few and far between as the film goes on, however, given that Caesar eventually finds himself captured and pulled behind enemy lines, along with the majority of the remaining apes. His torture and suffering there, compounded by his guilt over his necessary slaying of Koba (Toby Kebbell) in Dawn and the us-or-them reality of the ongoing situation, forces Caesar to question what more he can possibly give to save himself, and his kind.
The thoughtful continuity between films plays another notable role in Wars unsettling portrayal of a conflicts waning days. Central to Caesars arc in this film is Serkis continuously astounding work in the role; whatever debate might have remained about the actors role in the series boundary-pushing motion capture work should hopefully be laid to rest here. Caesar is not just a marvelous creation of special effects (the work on his and the other apes design, by Weta Digital, remains groundbreaking), but a character whos evolved from the star child of a dominant new species to one of the last beings on Earth capable of remembering mankinds onetime decency. Much of that complexity emerges from Caesars gaze, and its not ultimately a VFX who finds it. Its Serkis, and his work here is as powerful as any hes done.
Like any great villain, this ethos is mirrored in the Colonel, who has more than enough reason to fear what might come next. War for the Planet of the Apes may be part of a trilogy thats always taken a sympathetic stance about mans treatment of the apes, but Reeves introduces a moral conundrum that asks far more difficult questions than before. At what point can two opposing groups truly fail to coexist? What is the morality of one beings survival over another? Can there be morality in a binary life-or-death scenario? Harrelson plays him as a man who abandoned such questions and answers long ago, whos chosen the brutal simplicity of genocide or extinction. His fear is real, and this makes it all the more palpable. If the actor has played roles like this one before blithely deadpan in the face of the unimaginable Harrelson nevertheless lends the Colonel a tremor that seethes under his crueler moments. Hes a man who chose to accept savagery out of necessity, and expects no less than the same from those following him.
The most remarkable accomplishment of War, then, is how the film seeks to articulate both sides as clearly as it can. Reeves visualizes the waning human world as a despairing progression of hiding places and mercenary strongholds, where the apes fret about where a migration would even take them and the humans cling to their last bolstered prison encampment as tightly as they can. Caesar is forced to endure the worst of one species to protect another, and the combination of Serkis resonant work and Reeves unflinching direction cement War as one of the more thoughtful and unyielding blockbusters of its time.
As with the previous films, Caesars entire mission is defined by the idea that all beings have a right to live, and live well, and that someday they will. Here its reflected in Bad Apes daffy commitment to goodness, or in the apes protective kindness toward the Nova. (One of the films loveliest scenes features one of its only vibrant swatches of color, as she shares a flower with one of her protectors.) But its also a film with an astute understanding of how cancerous vengeance can be, and how even the best among us can act hideously when pushed to the limits of anger and need. In its way, War also makes a painful case for how avoidable inter-faction violence usually is, and how quickly thats forgotten when such violence erupts.
Reeves and cinematographer Michael Seresin juxtapose the purity of the vibrant white snow surrounding the encampment and the exhaustion of the gunmetal-dark human territory to breathtaking effect. The films color palette may be muted, but War is an impeccably shot film, the uncanny CGI fitting perfectly against the films unforgiving environments. At times the production design is truly eerie, suggesting a world where man exhausted itself and was slowly, quietly replaced. Between the lustrously shot expanses of untouched land and Michael Giacchinos nervous, sometimes dominant score, War builds a world made frightening by its absences.
The humans are so ultimately secondary that some of the films only questionable narrative decisions have a diminished impact. A good bit of the films prison section is built upon some suspect-to-unlikely human decisions and errors; for a legion of futuristic Marines, theyre inept as prison guards to the point of audience distraction. That said, even the panic and indecision of the soldiers can still be tied into into Wars thesis about scared, under-trained warriors who never asked to be placed in their position. Regardless, War has predominantly moved beyond its human characters, for better or worse. (Well argue its the former.) Wartime has no true victors, and War never cheats on its established stakes, and those of the series to date, by attempting to comfort its audience.
War for the Planet of the Apes is a formidable conclusion (if indeed it is) to one of the more well-considered modern series to date. This is a film of difficult, lingering questions and painful revelations. Beyond that, its also a film where a beloved CGI creation is tortured onscreen for dramatic effect. This is pop filmmaking nearing its darkest heights, but verging on its artistic heights as well, a movie that will undoubtedly have its place as long as two nations somewhere around the world are struggling over land or hubris or, as it is here, to endure. It treats the end of the world as the apocalypse weve always been racing ourselves into, and the one we wont be able to prevent even as we see it coming. Yet there is still always another way forward, no matter how much blood is shed. Theres always a new horizon, and a new tomorrow. The only question, then, is how many get to see it.
Here We Go Magics Luke Temple announces new album as Art Feynman, shares Cant Stand It:Listen
The new trailer for Flying Lotus Kuso movie is a cultish fever dream:Watch
- Return to your roots: Gardening a great solution to cope with stress of pandemic - The Independent - May 24th, 2020
- Else Blangsted, Who Fled the Nazis and Found a Hollywood Ending, Dies at 99 - The New York Times - May 24th, 2020
- Inside ultra-luxurious disaster survival kits where super-rich can pay 4k for night vision goggles and posh - The Sun - May 24th, 2020
- Far More Valuable Than a Stockpile of Food and Money - Investment U - May 19th, 2020
- Eat this Now (Because You Have to): Terrible Homemade Bread - Kansas City Pitch - May 15th, 2020
- Survivor Is the Quintessential TV Show - The Ringer - May 15th, 2020
- Documentary shows life in the 'Biosphere' wasn't out of this world - Arlington Catholic Herald - May 15th, 2020
- I didn't think a pandemic would bring out the domestic goddess in me - Metro.co.uk - May 11th, 2020
- How to avoid the end times - The Japan Times - March 24th, 2020
- Is It as Impossible to Build Jerusalem as It is to Escape Babylon? (Part Two) - CounterPunch - February 27th, 2020
- Veteran Analyst Warns of XRP Crash to $0.20 as Price Stumbles - Ethereum World News - February 27th, 2020
- XRP Could Be on Verge of Explosive Breakout Higher, Taking It 100% Higher - Ethereum World News - February 27th, 2020
- XRP Just Flipped a Key Resistance Into Support: Why This is Bullish - Ethereum World News - February 27th, 2020
- Ripple Is On The Verge Of A New Rally According To Analysts - Somag News - February 27th, 2020
- West Ham need something drastic to kickstart a revival they might not get it in the Premier League - FourFourTwo - January 25th, 2020
- Lost in Space Season 3 Releasing on Netflix and Dr. Smith Will Return - Honk News - January 25th, 2020
- When Is Lost In Space Season 3 Coming Out On Netflix And Dr. Smith Returning Possibilities - The Digital Wise - January 25th, 2020
- The Best And Worst Of WWE NXT 1/15/20: Survivalism - UPROXX - January 18th, 2020
- Bitcoin Indicator That Called Rally to $14000 Flashes Again - BTCNN - January 18th, 2020
- Bitcoin just cracked $8,500, and it means bulls are taking control - CryptoSlate - January 18th, 2020
- Ethereum Forms a Bearish Rejection Just Below a Key Resistance Level - Ethereum World News - January 18th, 2020
- The Explosion In This One Metric Is Bullish for Bitcoins Price - Ethereum World News - January 18th, 2020
- Why An Analyst Thinks XRP Price Has Further to Fall - Ethereum World News - January 18th, 2020
- Would a Virginia bill really ban dads from teaching sons how to use hunting rifles? - PolitiFact - December 18th, 2019
- Amazon's holiday gift to Orlando's sci-fi fans is a revitalized season of 'The Expanse' - Orlando Weekly - December 13th, 2019
- Market Experts Weigh in on the Next Major Mergers & Acquisitions in Media - Observer - November 21st, 2019
- A brief history of John Krasinski's transformation into a guy who absolutely loves the CIA - Business Insider - November 21st, 2019
- Richard Tobin of Brooklawn accused of conspiring to initimidate minorities - Courier Post - November 21st, 2019
- The Terminator Created a New Kind of Hero With Kyle Reese - Yahoo Entertainment - October 27th, 2019
- Bitcoin Might Head To The $6,000 Region In The Near-Term According to Wyckoff Logic - ZyCrypto - October 17th, 2019
- Low Tide Review: The Goonies Meets The Treasure of the Sierra Madre in Sharp Coming-of-Age Thriller - IndieWire - October 4th, 2019
- As the climate collapses, we can either stand together or perish alone - The Guardian - October 4th, 2019
- Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Trapped in the R.A.W., A Journal of My Experiences during the Great Invasion by Kaylee Bearovna by Kate Boyes - Locus Online - October 4th, 2019
- Oregon 'Hate Map' Reveals 11 Racist, Separatist Hate Groups In The State - Patch.com - August 18th, 2017
- Doomsday Desperation - Southern Poverty Law Center - August 18th, 2017
- 'American Made' Review: Tom Cruise Flies Between Comedy and Tension, Missing Both - TheWrap - August 18th, 2017
- North Korea: Nuclear War Fears Spur Sales of Preparedness Goods ... - Fortune - August 14th, 2017
- For Doomsday Preppers, the End of the World Is Good for Business - New York Times - August 13th, 2017
- Film Review: Good Time - Consequence of Sound (blog) - August 13th, 2017
- What I Learned From the Neo-Nazi in My Prison Book Club | The ... - The Marshall Project - August 11th, 2017
- Nine Inch Nails - Webster Hall, New York City - Gigs - Reviews ... - Soundblab - August 11th, 2017
- Film Review: The Glass Castle Fails on Almost Every Level - Splice Today - August 11th, 2017
- If North Korea targets Guam, how should the US respond? - Fox News - August 11th, 2017
- Naked - slantmagazine - August 10th, 2017
- Noir Thriller Wind River Examines An Ignored America - Willamette Week - August 10th, 2017
- Silicon Valley luminaries are busily preparing for when robots take ... - Mashable - August 10th, 2017
- Review: Nolan's 'Dunkirk' is as Riveting as it is Groundbreaking - First Showing (blog) - July 23rd, 2017
- Do you Have What it Takes to be a Christian Survivalist? - CBN News - July 19th, 2017
- Morning Star :: No growth but lots of opportunities | The People's Daily - Morning Star Online - July 19th, 2017
- 'War for the Planet of the Apes' Review: Finale of biblical proportions - Rappler - July 18th, 2017
- Queued Up: 'The Lego Batman Movie,' 'XX,' 'Logan,' and More - Aquarian Weekly - July 12th, 2017
- Review: Paranoia thriller It Comes At Night is impressively tense and ... - Norfolk Eastern Daily Press - July 8th, 2017
- Review: Paranoia thriller It Comes At Night is impressively tense and ineffably creepy - Norwich Evening News - July 8th, 2017
- DJ CherishTheLuv, Music Missionary - HuffPost - June 30th, 2017
- What it Means to Finish Pikes Peak + Results - Hot Rod Network - Hot Rod Network - June 29th, 2017
- 'It Comes at Night' a Spellbinding Tale of Family and Survival - Shepherd Express - June 29th, 2017
- Are you ready when disaster strikes? These Minnesota doomsday preppers are - Charleston Express - June 26th, 2017
- Are you ready when disaster strikes? These Minnesota doomsday preppers are - Arkansas News - June 25th, 2017
- Where billionaires are stockpiling land for the apocalypse: Map - The Real Deal Magazine - June 19th, 2017
- Map reveals where billionaires are stockpiling land that could be used in the apocalypse - Business Insider Nordic - June 17th, 2017
- Map reveals where billionaires are stockpiling land that could be used in the apocalypse - SFGate - June 15th, 2017
- Billionaires are stockpiling land that could be used in the apocalypse here's where they're going - The Advocate - June 15th, 2017
- Next "Far Cry" video game is set in Montana - KRTV News in Great Falls, Montana - KRTV Great Falls News - June 11th, 2017
- Veteran teaches disaster preparation skills at Heights library - The Killeen Daily Herald - June 10th, 2017
- It Comes At Night stars on survivalism, the apocalypse - WDEF News 12 - June 9th, 2017
- Recently unveiled documents reveal anarchist strand festered at Evergreen for nearly a decade - The College Fix - June 9th, 2017
- Margaret Atwood on the utopias hiding inside her dystopias and why there is no the future - Vox - June 9th, 2017
- Humanity 2.0: The Unstoppability of Singularity - HuffPost - June 8th, 2017
- Upcoming "Far Cry" video game is set in Montana - KTVQ Billings News - June 6th, 2017
- Survivalist shares experience in Harker Heights - The Killeen Daily Herald - June 5th, 2017
- Click Your Hiking Boots Together: Oz Farm Is NorCal's Eco ... - 7x7 - June 3rd, 2017
- You'll Find Far Cry 5 ProvocativeEven if It's a Mess - WIRED - June 1st, 2017
- 'Alien: Covenant' and the Nature of Horror - Film School Rejects - June 1st, 2017
- Via 'The Florida Project,' meet two of the youngest stars in Cannes Film Festival history - Los Angeles Times - June 1st, 2017
- Alien 3 is far from the worst Alien movie. In fact, it's pretty great. - Vox - Vox - May 23rd, 2017
- These Minnesota doomsday preppers are ready for disaster to strike ... - Grand Forks Herald - May 14th, 2017
- These Minnesota doomsday preppers are ready for disaster to strike ... - Duluth News Tribune - May 11th, 2017
- Are you ready when disaster strikes? These Minnesota doomsday preppers are - The Bozeman Daily Chronicle - May 9th, 2017
- Homesteading and Survivalism Living a simple life - May 6th, 2017
- On Ketamine and Added Value - E-Flux - May 6th, 2017