Starring: Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Amiah Miller, Steve Zahn, Devyn Dalton, Judy Greer (Rated M – 140 min).
Grim, riveting, emotional supposed finale of the newer ‘Apes’ trilogy definitely benefits from immaculate state-of-the-art special motion capture effects. Led in no uncertain terms by Andy Serkis as supreme leader Caesar, who despite Academy Award technicalities, ultimately deserves award consideration.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) and its superior sequel Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) ushered in a new slant on the late sixties Charlton Heston masterpiece, itself spawning variable follow-ups including a live action and animated television series.
Set several years after Dawn, brutal war and a conflict with humans continues. However Caesar is happy to stay secluded within the San Francisco forest area alongside his simeon posse until discovered by one of two human military factions intent on eliminating all apes.
Edgy in roles at the best of times, here the great Woody Harrelson plays a destructive Colonel with unpredictable mannerisms bordering on insanity. Think Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now. Not really an action film such as the previous two instalments mostly became, this has dramatic power with the majority of the middle stanza gasping during a daring prison escape.
Although Caesar wants peace happy to let humans kill humans, violence is key and appropriate – unfortunately to his race survival. Against his better judgement but to the concern of his respected friend Maurice (the elder Orangutang), Caesar agrees to bring on their journey a mute child they find hiding in a cabin in the woods. Also joining them is an old circus monkey ‘Bad Ape’ providing some rare comic relief, but not too much thankfully.
She is given the name Nova, one of a few subtle nods linking with the 1968 original that indicate to me this one may not actually be a finale after all. Not a brilliant movie, but a solid science-fiction tale. The aforementioned visuals, to rousing orchestral score and slender screenplay characterisations, take the viewer into their own developing emotions. Realism of these apes are spectacular.
Andy Serkis is the motion capture maestro having also brought fantasy creatures King Kong, Gollum (Lord of the Rings) and Snoke (Star Wars) all to life through the magic of the movies. As Caesar, his presence is felt and certainly deserves Academy Award recognition.
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