Fitting climax for a well-made trilogy

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10:28 PM July 13th, 2017

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By: Jeff Ruffolo, July 13th, 2017 10:28 PM

Twentieth Century Fox’s “War for the Planet of the Apes.”

War is coming. Can you hear it?
War is coming. Can you smell it?
War is coming. It is right outside your door!

“War for the Planet of the Apes” arrives this week not with a thud but as a rousing conclusion of a film trilogy that masterfully re-wrote the 1970’s film series.

Directed by Matt Reeves and written by Mark Bomback and Reeves, “War” picks up two years after the genetically enhanced apes, who after being released from captivity in “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” have taken over the newly forested hills of Oakland, California.

They eventually drove out the humans they fought against and defeated in the sequel “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” and are now masters of a world nearly devoid of human habitation after a global virus has pushed humans to the point of extinction.

As briefly mentioned at the closing of “Dawn,” those humans (clever, aren’t they?) who have survived the plague has been re-grouping their armed forces and are ready for a full-scale attack against what you might think are a group of hapless chimpanzees.

Here’s the official synopsis:

“Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his apes are forced into a deadly conflict with an army of humans led by a ruthless colonel (Woody Harrelson). After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mythic quest to avenge his kind. As the journey finally brings them face to face, Caesar and the colonel are pitted against each other in an epic battle that will determine the fate of both of their species and the future of the planet.”

After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mythic quest to avenge his kind. As the journey finally brings them face to face, Caesar and the colonel are pitted against each other in an epic battle that will determine the fate of both of their species and the future of the planet.”

As the journey finally brings them face to face, Caesar and the colonel are pitted against each other in an epic battle that will determine the fate of both of their species and the future of the planet.”

Without question, the apes win the day. At least in the special effects department.

One of the big shots at Weta Digital in Wellington, New Zealand, the world-famed special effects house, should be getting the acceptance speech ready for next year’s Academy Awards as the digital effects in this movie are simply stunning.

When the apes are not running, leaping or swinging from one place to another take a close look at Andy Serkis’ face. As

As Caesar, the living God of the apes, the attention to detail on his face by Weda, pushes the boundaries of computer animation.

Bravo!

Character actor Steve Zahn (“That Thing You Do”) steals the film as “Bad Ape,” a “common chimpanzee who lived in the Sierra Safari Zoo in Nevada, before the Simian Flu outbreak and spent his days as a hermit before joining Caesar’s tribe. His round “bug eyes” are made with emphasis as he is one of the smartest of the apes–second only to Caesar. Zahn’s boundless energy has “Bad Ape” jumping from one place to another and is the badly needed comedic

His round “bug eyes” are made with emphasis as he is one of the smartest of the apes–second only to Caesar. Zahn’s boundless energy has “Bad Ape” jumping from one place to another and is the badly needed comedic addition to the series.

The antagonist in “War” is Woody Harrelson (“Zombieland”) who plays Colonel McCullough, “an iron-fisted soldier obsessed with wiping out Caesar and his tribe to preserve his people’s role as the dominant species.”

Basically he chews nails for breakfast. Although a pretty one dimensional character, McCullough is given a few private moments by Reeves in which we see him mourning the loss of his young son.

When the action begins early on, you don’t need this film critic to tell you that ape flesh and bone simply cannot stand against an AK-47 submachine gun.

The apes are brutally slaughtered.

Ah, yes … then there is hubris, the downfall of humanity and it is the apes and their leader Caesar which violently exploit the celebrating humans to their everlasting regret.

I really liked the spunky young actress Amiah Miller (“Lights Out”) as Nova, a “bold and kind war orphan whom one of the apes adopts as his daughter.”

She is silent throughout and immediately evocative of another leading female character, also named Nova, who was played by ravishing Linda Harrison, likewise silent throughout.

Nova was the girlfriend of Charlton Heston from the original Planet of the Apes in 1968.

Bravo to Reeves for selecting the snow-capped mountains above Vancouver, British Columbia to double as the same mountainous regions of California. The region is lush … the portion which isn’t covered in 10’ of snow, and Ape City never looked more realistic.

Almost enough to want to set aside a few days for a family vacation.

Not!

If there is any rub against “War” it is painfully too long—nearly two and a half hours.

Clearly not wanting to cut out the scenes with Zahn’s “Bad Ape,” in “War,” Reeves goes for maximum character development of Caesar … that is once the initial battle is over and the apes have run for the hills.

“War for the Planet of the Apes” is a fitting climax to this Planet of the Apes trilogy—although left wide open enough to drive a cement mixer through at the closing—and there is plenty of material left from the original five 1970’s “Apes” films to exploit.

Certainly more than enough jumping and leaping by our simian friends to immortalize those unforgettable words of Charlton Heston: “Take your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty ape!”

Questions, comments or travel story suggestions, write me at readingruffolos@gmail.com.

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