*NEW* WAR OF 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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*NEW* THE LEGEND OF TARZAN REVIEW *NEW*

The-Legend-of-Tarzan-poster-3

The king of the duds?

The cast did their best BUT it just wasn’t enough. A disjointed, drawn out and disappointing reboot of the iconic vine swinging jungle man.

Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgard – True Blood), having acclimated to life in London, is called back to his former home in the jungle to investigate the activities at a mining encampment.

Once I got over the absence of a Phil Collins soundtrack, I was ready to embrace the start of the summer blockbuster season. On paper, this should have ticked all the boxes. BUT somehow it just didn’t quite deliver for me.

The opening was intriguing enough as Christoph Waltz’s shady Leon Rom (Spectre) struck up a deal with Djimon Hounsou’s (Gladiator) demonic Chief Mbonga. Simple. Access to the diamond mines in exchange for Tarzan’s capture.

However, the pace soon put me into a mini-coma as “civilised” Tarzan skulked around the incredibly drab (and appropriately titled) Greystoke Manor. It was a good 45 minutes before anything got going.

I could respect the writers for trying to shake up the legend BUT they skimmed through the origin stuff far too quickly and replaced it with a dull and predictable story line that was taken far too seriously.

The origin flashbacks were the most interesting bits. I was happy to watch the same old story of Tarzan raised in captivity and fighting with the alpha males.

The lovely Margot Robbie (The Wolf of Wall Street) was wasted in her role. She had good chemistry with Skarsgard BUT was confined to playing a damsel in distress. I was thankful that the flashbacks skimmed through their nauseating romance. It was only a few scenes and that was enough.

Waltz played the same stocky and slimy villain to laughable results. I couldn’t take him seriously. He may have had some moves with those rosary beads BUT Rom felt like a complete parody of Waltz’s former roles.

Skarsgard certainly looked the part and put my body to shame with his physique. BUT his broody demeanour and wooden delivery didn’t do Tarzan justice. He got better as the film progressed and won me over by the end BUT it was too little, too late.

Thank God for Samuel L Jackson (The Hateful Eight). A much needed comic relief to the piece. Considering the huge budget, I was disappointed by the shoddy CGI on offer. In one scene, the detail on the apes was uncanny. They looked as realistic as the ones in the latest Planet of the Apes.

BUT then the next sequence, we have Tarzan swinging from one badly CGI’d vine to another. Yikes. It spoiled the whole thing. I knew it was going to be a little ridiculous BUT the stampede finale was horrendous and far too cartoony.

Bearing in mind that Jumanji is over 20 years old (I know, right?!), I’m still impressed with the effects. BUT this latest endeavour actually had me wanting for the old school make up and props from the dated Christopher Lambert adaptation.

The last 30 minutes delivered a lot more of what I had expected from the get go! All the sombre serious drama thrown out for a funny, riveting (if disjointed) mad dash finale.

The fight sequences were actually well choreographed when Tarzan was allowed to show off his super strength. Because (of course) being raised by apes, you develop an incredible bone structure that allows you to dispose of numerous soldiers with one punch. BUT entertaining none the less.

It was all too disjointed for my liking. Robbie and Skarsgard weren’t really in it as much as you’d think. Especially Miss Robbie. She was either tied up (Steady now) or constantly recaptured.

Apart from Jackson, the rest of the supporting characters were either weak or unmemorable. For all of Chief Mbonga’s (Hounsou) promise, his reason for Tarzan’s capture was so predictable and dealt with far too quickly.

Disappointed, to say the least. We didn’t even get to see Skarsgard deliver the infamous jungle call. Just a couple of bellows off screen.

A meandering pace, shoddy CGI and weak characters ruined what could have been a fun B movie flick.

2.5/5