War for the Planet of the Apes Review

 

Why does this franchise exist? I mean the MCU exists as a licence to print money, the DCEU and Dark Universe exist as an experiment to see if you can create a similar licence without putting in the legwork. Bourne exists because America is desperate to reclaim the spy genre and Fast and the Furious because 12 year olds need their sugar rush.

But I can find no reason why pointless of the apes exists betting proving that Andy Serkis deserves a precious oscar that the nasty, tricksy academy is keeping from him.

I mean yes, the 1968 is one of the greatest films of all time with one of the most iconic and parodied endings of all time, and yes, the following films were hit hard with the law of diminishing returns but they created a perfect, eternal, causal loop. We don’t need a new franchise to explain how we got to the original film. We already know.

And weirdly, no-one seems to remember these films exist until the next one is about to hit cinemas. It’s just sort of… there.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, War for the pointless of the apes is amazing. Arguably the best blockbuster of the year but there’s just a curious futility to its existence.

There’s other niggles as well. This iOS apparently a post apocalyptic world with unlimited food, petrol and bullets and the apes seem weirdly ok with being naked in temperatures that are probably hovering around 0.

And despite constant references to a planet of apes, we never see or hear any mention of tribes beyond serkis, so it’s more a Small Wood of the apes than a planet.

But aside from that, I’ve got very little to criticise.

The film wanders from Vietnam movie to revenge western to Ape-pocalypse now towards the end. (That’s not one of mine by the way, it’s literally stencilled on a wall)

Don’t go expecting all out action as was inferred from the trailers, instead Logan would probably be the closest film I could think of. It has ruminations on war and revenge, justice versus vengeance, how far into savagery must you go to defeat the savage?

Even the villain, gets some measure of tragedy, his backstory and a new threat to what remains of humanity giving some understanding to his beliefs, giving layers to a character that could so easily have been a cardboard cutout.

The film looks incredible, with the apes looking like you could reach out and touch them.

Serkis needs his Oscar for his performance as Ceaser, the ape equivalent of Professor X who finds himself pushed deep into a darkness that film seems all to eager to explore.

Because this is a pretty dark film that might be too intense for younger viewers and I was very grateful for the comic relief character, even if he was called
Bad Ape.

With deep characters who have believable motivations, backed up by some of the greatest CGI creations ever made and some truly thrilling yet realistic action scenes this is the first (and probably last) must see blockbuster of the year.

Just don’t believe all that guff about this being a trilogy, part four has already been greenlit.

My Score-See It Now

Jurassic PETA

So plot details for the Jurassic World sequel have started to leak out and to honest it’s a bit of a change of tack.

Spanish filmmaker J.A. Bayona is set to direct the next film; and the first movie’s director, Colin Trevorrow, spoke at the Sitges Film Festival in Spain, where he hinted at a continuation of this theme in the next film.

“The dinosaurs will be a parable of the treatment animals receive today: the abuse, medical experimentation, pets, having wild animals in zoos like prisons, the use the military has made of them, animals as weapons.”

Naturally this has made PETA very excited. In a press release, they claimed that “In addition to allowing viewers to reflect on their own use of animals in their everyday lives, breathtaking CGI will bring dinosaurs to life and create true “movie magic” to wow moviegoers, further proving that animal actors are unnecessary.”

And whilst I don’t dispute that that animals have been treated incredibly poorly in film sets over the years, CGI will never look as good as something that’s actually physically there. The iconic T-Rex jeep attack scene from the first film was made using  animatronics, meaning that the actor were reacting to something that was physically there which helps make their performances more effective. Watch that scene again (it’s easy to find on YouTube) and tell me that it would have been better with CGI. Yes, animal actors should only be used as a last resort or if their role places the animal in no danger but seriously? CGI as the best option? Am I the only one that remembers puppets, animatronics and just good old fashioned rubber models? Or stop-motion. Lovely, wonderful, almost extinct stop-motion

And as for moral of the story being all about animal rights? Firstly, the Jurassic Park series already has a moral- mostly that you shouldn’t build Jurassic Park. The series has always been at it’s strongest when proving that Frankenstein is an excellent way to get your lawyers eaten whilst they cower on the toilet. Changing morals means changing the way the films look and feel. Not something I’d recommend for a film series that relies so heavily on the nostalgia of a film that came out in 1993.

Besides, we already have a kick-ass film series about animal welfare – The Original Planet of the Apes series. Or hell just watch the original 1968 classic with one of the most iconic endings of all time!?!? Or, if your after something a little more modern there’s Babe, Free Willy, Chicken Run, Black Beauty and many, many more.

Another issue is that, well, we live in the post Blackfish era of film now. SeaWorld is quietly going out of business, Zoos are under pressure like never before to prove that there’s a reason for them to exist. In other words? It seems like this is a message film when the message has already been transmitted far and wide. Especially for a film that’s not due out until 2018.

I don’t want to come down too hard on PETA though, after all there is nothing wrong with making sure that standards have been raised for animals in films, but this? Even in universe this doesn’t make sense to me. Reliably, the dinosaurs turn everybody that’s not a main character into dinner and they have been genetically created in a laboratory, not captured from the wild. Which, from my point of view makes the whole point moot.

But what do you guys think?