Wednesday, July 26, 2017

War for Planet o' Apes

I may be in the minority, but I love me some Planet of Ape movies! Sure anything after the original doesn’t hold up well at all.

However, I really have enjoyed these new reboots of the series. Sure there are moments of beyond silly and holy unbelievable, but they are movies about intelligent apes. The premise itself is silly and unbelievable.

War for the Planet of the Apes.

A fifteen year plus time lapse has occurred after Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the human race ( at least in the U.S. ) is wrecked thanks to a human civil war and Simian Flu. Caesar and his band of not monkeys is hiding and trying to survive while being hunted by……a military organization called Alpha Omega. They are out to track down and kill the remaining apes led by Caesar (or do they have another nefarious scheme). Caesar wants to broker peace, but the evil human Colonel Woody Harrelson is having none of it. After a personal attack on him and his, Caesar sends his ape buddies away to greener pastures and leaves to seek bloody revenge on Colonel Woody Harrelson. This looks to lead to an  inevitable showdown that will decide if ape or man will rule what remains of the planet ( or does it ).

Right out the door this film is pretty heavy. A lot of emotion is beat over your head with the plight of Caesar. They really want you to feel for him and his ape buddies. Then they dump the emotional issues of Colonel Woody Harrelson on you and although he is the bad guy, you are made to feel sorry for him. Then there are the apes that have turned to help the humans hunt Caesar and you are supposed to feel sorry for them since their world was turned upside down with this war as well. Then there are all the regular apes just wanting to live free and you are made to feel for them with their horrible situation too. It is all pretty heavy.

Thankfully there is Steve Zahn. He voices an ape that escaped from a zoo and is living like a hermit in an abandoned ski resort. He is never named, but refers to himself as “bad ape.” He is not stupid, but is definitely dimmer than the apes we have seen in the previous two movies. This character also adds a bit to the story as he is the first ape from outside Caesar’s band that can talk, make fire, ride a horse and all that jazz. Plus he wear a stocking cap (with a pom-pom) and a vest when they travel in the mountains. That is just a big pile of win in my book! The broken speech and mannerisms of this guy give the film a bit of humor that is surprisingly alright. He keeps this movie from being too overly dark and heavy.

War for the Planet of the Apes is a bit of a misnomer and it isn’t. There is fighting but it is only really one group of apes vs one group of soldiers. Rebellion for the Planet of the Apes seems more fitting, but that doesn’t have the ring to it as war does. Sure there are apes and men fighting, but it only really has one ape vs. man battle. The rest of the film feels more like a bit of Bridge Over the River Kwai’s prison camp stuff, the Ten Commandments (the stuff between Moses and Ramses) , some Apocalypse Now Colonel Kurtz and some Great Escape mixed in for fun. Maybe the familiar feel of all those films, along with talking simians, is why I liked this movie so much.

Woody Harrelson is good as the leader of the Alpha Omega military force. Even though his eventual downfall, no real shock folks, is a bit of heavy handed irony.

The CGI is still top notch for the apes. 

They lay a good bit of ground work for a potential fourth movie, probably being the full on Planet of the Apes. Some of it is topical call back and some is plot driven.
  • Loads of humans have died off from the Simian Flu.
  • Remaining humans all carry a bit of the virus and it can re-manifest itself. When it does people lose the ability to speak and regress to a more simple almost primitive state. This would explain why humans are like animals in a Planet of Apes movie.
  • Look Creaser’s son is named…..Cornelius.
  • More and more apes are starting to talk and become smarter, much like in a full Planet o’ Apes movie.
  • A forest paradise on the other side of a desert is mentioned, just like the setting for Planet o’ the Apes.
  • A little girl has survived the first and second stage of the Simian Flu. She is given the name Nova just like Charlton Hesston’s girlfriend in the original planet o’ Apes.
  • Humanity has crumbled and only small pockets are mentioned to remain safe.
  • There are also some asthenic choices that line up with the original or potential future Planet o’ Apes: horse riding, society levels forming, and cross beam warning totems too.

I have no idea if a fourth movie is in the works. If so it would have to be a full on Planet o’ Apes reboot. I know in the original there was blink and miss it bit about a space mission. Do the astronauts come home to the world run by apes? Does this series just end where it does as everyone( worth a damn)  knows what happens next in the franchise. Hey why is there a desert near San Francisco with a lush forest just the other side of it? Where is that on the map of these United States? I mean this series started in the city by the bay and the surrounding areas. Where is this taking place now?

Anyway, for a “war” movie it is pretty lame. For an ape vs. man vs. differing yet similar points of view story, it is pretty damn good! After three films I am still a big fan of this franchise. Yes, it is ridiculous to see chimps riding horses and wielding machine guns. Yes, the whole world details and goings on in this world are sketchy at best. I know talking chimps and gorillas is beyond insane. However, if you went into these films expecting anything but this kind of stuff then what were you thinking?

These (insert word ) of the Apes films are so much better than their predecessors. This is a series reboot that actually worked and was way better than the originals. Seriously, watch the original sequels to Planet of the Apes. They are pretty much just completely terrible.

Rise, Dawn and War for the Planet of the Apes.

I’m a big fan!

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