Under the Radar

'War for the Planet of the Apes' is an Old-Fashioned War Movie


War for the Planet of the Apes is the third movie in the latest series based on Pierre Boulle's classic sci-fi novel and the trilogy is by far Hollywood's best 21st-century reboot of a familiar classic.

Since Lone Survivor and American Sniper, Hollywood's been committed to telling real-life military stories with sensitivity and attention to detail. It's nice to see an old-fashioned war movie that takes on none of that responsibility and concentrates on taking great old-fashioned war movie storytelling and putting it into a sci-fi flick.


Each movie (Rise, Dawn and War) has been a huge improvement on its predecessor and writer/director Matt Reeves (who did Dawn and War) has figured out a way to give the lead ape Caesar a fitting resolution to his story.

Here's the genius move: the new trilogy understands the theme behind the original five-movie series but narrows the story down to a far more limited time and place. The movies (especially the last two) deliver epic thrills but lose the time-travel with a plot more grounded in reality.

This version comes with bonus features that go into elaborate detail about the motion-capture technology that's behind the creation of the ape characters. Fox should mail out links to the documentary footage and launch a Best Actor campaign for Andy Serkis' performance as Caesar and maybe a Best Supporting Actor push for Steve Zahn as Bad Ape.

Woody Harrelson is awesome as the Colonel who's determined to wipe out the ape population and stop the spread of the simian virus that may now be negatively affecting human intelligence. Serkis and Harrelson square off like opposing gunmen in a Sergio Leone western and there's a great tribute to WWII POW movies like The Great Escape at the heart of War for the Planet of the Apes.

War is both as surprising and as good as Mad Max: Fury Road, the other recent great revival film.

Matt Reeves is currently developing a standalone Batman movie for WB and he could be the director to breath life back into the character after the DC Universe movies of the last few years. Matt has a great commentary track for both the movie and the deleted scenes and he gives a great account of the films that inspire him while talking about this movie.

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