War for the Planet of the Apes is the third movie in the current series and the second co-written and directed by Matt Reeves. It continues the current prequels to one of science fiction’s best-ever movies, the Charlton Heston classic The Planet of the Apes.
The prequels done in the Heston era were popular and commercially successful, but weren’t very good. The original series even spun off into a short-lived TV show. None of them worked. It took a few decades, but eventually producers got the prequels right.
Andy Serkis stars again as the chimpanzee leader Caesar. The story takes up where Dawn of the Planet of the Apes left off. The apes are on the run and trying to find a sanctuary away from humans so they can just be apes.
Humans — in the meantime — are slowly succumbing to the virus that takes away most of their intelligence and leaves them as docile and malleable as some animals. Angry about that, a rogue colonel played by Woody Harrelson has amassed an army and is determined to wipe out Caesar and his free apes. War is in the works.
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An attack on the apes forces Caesar to confront the colonel’s evil.
After doing Gollum in The Lord of the Rings, Serkis has become a motion-capture expert. That’s the technology that Reeves and other directors often use to turn real-life actors into animals and other characters. In this case it’s apes. Serkis and his co-stars nail their parts and there is no need to suspend disbelief.
Like the first two films of the series, War of the Planet of the Apes is stunning. Reeves and his special effects crews are amazing. You really believe apes walk and talk and can be quite cunning and very dangerous. And someone please give Serkis his due. This is award-worthy work.
That — along with the other human actors and Harrelson’s villainy — is just icing on the cake. The real treasure is a deep and rich story of survival that continues to make this one of the best science-fiction series ever.
Movie name: War for the Planet of the Apes
Director: Matt Reeves
Stars: Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn, Karin Konoval, Amiah Miller, Toby Kebbell, Judy Greer, Terry Notary
Mr. Movie rating: 5 stars
Rated PG-13 for mature themes and violence. It’s playing at Regal’s Columbia Center 8, the Fairchild Cinemas Pasco and Queensgate 12s, AMC Kennewick and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen.
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it’s your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 stars to 1 star: Don’t bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.