Apecalypse Now

War For The Planet Of The Apes

I TAKE no credit (or blame, depending on your opinion of the pun) for the headline to this post. It appears as a piece of graffiti in the film.

The latest in the Planet Of The Apes franchise, following Rise and Dawn, obviously pays homage to Coppola’s Vietnam epic. But there are strong nods also to quest Westerns like The Searchers, or – more recently – The Revenant. Director Matt Reeves also has some fun with POW escape movie tropes.

The title is actually misleading. The film opens with the scene of an ambush, and climaxes with a full scale battle (though even then it manages to overturn expectations of a humans v apes showdown). But what happens between these two set pieces is an intelligent examination of the shifting morality of resistance and revenge.

Andy Serkis, as Caesar, the leader of the apes, and Woody Harrelson, as the Kurtz-like rogue colonel in charge of the soldiers, are two conflicted figures. Each is excellent, and their scenes together are riveting.

One more thing; the special effects (by Weta Workshop) are extraordinary.

Verdict: Sentimental and moralising perhaps, but absorbing and thought-provoking. ****

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