*NEW* WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES REVIEW *NEW*

The best one of the bunch?

Let’s ask our pal Caesar . . .

Not quite. BUT a decent effort all the same.

After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar (Andy Serkis) wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mythic quest to avenge his kind.

I remember my reaction when I heard that the Planet of the Apes franchise was being rebooted/remade (again). It was very similar to ol’ Caesar’s.

However, Rise of the Planet of the Apes was a welcome addition. I was completely surprised and engrossed. Completely caught up in the origin story of the super intelligent ape.

BUT Dawn of the Apes on the other hand . . . NOT so much. A complete misfire. Bar Caesar’s fractious relationship with the ultra-violent Koba, I felt the sequel was hampered by poor pacing and a flimsy plot line.

Needless to say, I was a little anxious on watching War. Wondering if it would suffer the same flaws and ruin what could have been an impressive trilogy. Luckily, I’m not saying that today.

A visual masterpiece.

Andy Serkis was fantastic. How the hell that man hasn’t received an award for all the work he’s done surprises me (I mean, come on. Gollum, Kong and now Caesar!).

It takes a lot more than wearing a green leotard and making monkey noises to bring life to these creatures.

The movements, the expressions. I know it’s CGI BUT for two to three hours, you could almost believe they were real. The effects were impeccable. The detail. They deserve an Oscar nod for that alone.

The first person PoV perspective as Caesar makes his introduction was brilliant. All his various monkey brethren bowing down and raising their hands in respect to their leader.

The slow burning pace actually worked for the (majority of the) film and allowed the characters to develop quite nicely as Caesar fought against the advancing troops. Desperate not to cause a war. Only wanting to exist in peace.

BUT of course, the humans have another plan in mind. There were a few twists and turns I didn’t expect as Caesar seeks vengeance.

However, his clan won’t let him go it alone. And what a bunch of characters. Or should I say monkeys? Maurice the orangutan. Caesar’s overbearing conscience and protector. Forever keeping the angry ape in check.

There was such a great dynamic between the group. I loved how the conversations flicked back and forth from sign language to talking.

With Caesar as the only ape that can speak. Or so he thought . . .

Steve Zahn, take a bow! Sorry, Mr Serkis BUT there was one little chap that nearly stole the show and that was Bad Ape.

It was at the 90 minute marker that I could feel my patience wading BUT once Bad Ape made his introduction. I was back in the mix.

A loner chimp that escaped one of the compounds during the start of the outbreak. Picking up words in order to survive.

A much needed comic relief to the sombre affair as he struggles to understand why Caesar would want to face the Colonel.

I could easily watch a Maurice/Bad Ape spin-off. Those two were a fantastic duo.

Things took a more interesting turn when Caesar and co stumbled across a mute girl named Nova (Amiah Miller). Flagging up all sorts of questions; why can’t she speak? A side effect of the virus? Will Caesar show mercy?

And what a game changing performance from Woody Harrelson. I wasn’t sure if the Cheers star would be able to pull it off BUT once Caesar and The Colonel come face to face, I was on tenterhooks.

There was a striking contrast that developed between these two stubborn leaders as they fought for their kind. Both suffering losses.

BUT the Colonel (or Colonel Kurtz as I call him) was a man truly on the verge. Deluded in his own mission for finding the cure by wiping out all the apes.

The action set pieces were exhilarating to watch. I just wish the length could have been cut by 30 minutes. The elongated Great Escape style compound sequence was too drawn out for my liking.

There was only so much of Caesar wallowing in self-loathing that I could take.

Don’t get me wrong, it set up a fiery finale BUT after all the build up, it all ended a bit flat. Almost abruptly.

It was a fitting one BUT I still had questions that were hinted in the other efforts. For those who have seen it, I will impose my SPOILERIFIC question further down.

I don’t think it goes without saying that you might need to watch Rise and Dawn to appreciate the little nods.

BUT in all fairness, my mate got the gist and he chose to watch this one without seeing the others. So take your pick.

It may have fell short of Rise BUT this was still a riveting visual masterstroke with some stellar turns. One of the better ones.

3.5/5

I was just glad that I fought the urge not to sing this little gem.

 

NOW *POSSIBLE SPOILERS* After Rise introduced the Liberty 1 expedition (Well, Icarus 1 – a reference to Heston’s spaceship in the original Planet of the Apes), will that still fit into this story line? Is there going to be another one? The girl was called Nova. A hint, maybe?

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THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG REVIEW

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The desolation of the competition so far.

A visual cinematic feast for the eyes. Jackson unleashes a beast of a blockbuster. They’ve done it again darker and moodier than ever.

Brilliant storytelling, a great cast and breath-taking visual effects. Film of the year? Saving the best ‘til last? If we got anything to go by with the films this month then definitely.

Now I haven’t read the Hobbit (What?!). However, I was familiar with the original LOTR trilogy and found Jackson faithful in his adaptation. There does appear to be a divide in the critical reception of the Hobbit trilogy. Some found An Unexpected Journey inconsequential. Personally I enjoyed it and saw it as a great indicator of things to come.

Jackson expanded the story and enabled a bigger exploration of the mythology of the Tolkien universe on a much more extravagant scale. From speaking with fans of the book, this installment remarkably remains very faithful, complimenting the source material.

The film carries on from the last with the company being pursued by Orcs. The ring is already starting to take a hold on Bilbo and Gandalf is forced to do some investigating at Dol Guldur.

The cast are back and in fine form. Not to mention some additional characters to the ever-expanding line up and a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Hitchcockian cameo from Peter Jackson. The return of Orlando Bloom as Legolas, provided an extra story line which broke up the action. His exchange with Gloin delivered a perfect in-joke for any LOTR fan.

Martin Freeman’s mannerisms and traits were spot on yet again. We were also introduced to a new character Tauriel played by the stunning Evangeline Lilly, who soon becomes embroiled in a love triangle between Kili and Legolas (Yes, Lost fans. Kate is at it again).

Others have found Jackson’s new method of 48 frames per second manic, and at times, nauseating. Undermining the animation and making it appear cartoony. I didn’t find this to be the case. If anything it helped differentiate the trilogy and bring forth a new cinematic style.

The barrel escape was a fantastically riveting and brilliantly executed sequence. This film made me regret the decision to see this in 2D. The special effects and detail on Smaug (performed with perfection by Cumberbatch) was incredible. The minutiae was superb. The golden coins falling like rain off the monster’s metallic skin.

Despite being breathtaking, funny and suspenseful, the pace did test me. And I’m not surprised at a whopping 2 hours 40 minutes. Is there a rule that every LOTR film has to be three hours or something?

I was a little disappointed that more wasn’t made out of the dwarf company. When they were allowed to shine, they delivered. I know it’s difficult with such a big cast BUT the majority of them were either pushed into the background or forgotten about altogether.

Apart from that, an astounding piece of work. I was baffled when I first heard that The Hobbit would be made into a trilogy. I remember ranting about the money hungry production companies for trying to milk a great piece of fiction from a great author. BUT now I cannot wait to see what Jackson has in store for the third and final installment.

4/5