War for the Planet of the Apes
Matt Reeves (2017)[/b]
I think I've got it. I know what these movies are always about, their common theme. They are stories about compromises and hard choices, about how nothing can ever go as planned or as you wished, about making tough choices in difficult situations and living with them. To be with his people Cesar must leave his family. A carefully managed peace is shattered by the chaotic fervour of rogue elements. War for the Planet of the Apes is replete with bitter choices and unsatisfying resolutions.
That's what the apes are there to show us and the rest is just window dressing. Really fun window dressing though, like the window is connected to your Xbox and you can playing videogames on it. It nails what most action movies are utterly unable to even approach. Cesar's arc is one of the most rich in recent memory and I would have trouble thinking about a blockbuster trilogy with similar wealth. Every gives a handful of secondary characters a chance to shine. They have stories, personalities, they actually matter. Insanity. Everyone's motivations are clear and they are never simplistic. The villains in the Apes movies are never out to destroy the world because reasons, they are compelled by understandable beliefs that you can empathise with.
It's difficult to compare this movie with Dawn. The decisions the screenwriters take about which story to tell are unfathomable in both cases, but I just roll with it. The second episode had perhaps a narrative that I am more naturally drawn to, about the inevitability of conflict despite the unwillingness of the leaders. This one is more all over the place - it has more themes, but it is also less cohesive as a result. The story is less compelling.
It does have a good villain though, and there is one action scene that is like nothing I have ever watched. In the twentieth century the US has no military equal, so no movies have ever shown the American armed forces facing a similarly formidable adversary. This movie gives you that, and it't pretty baller. There are also a few fantastic scenes of pathos and lyricism that elevate the movie, and for once, I actually laughed at the comic relief character. This is the movie that concludes Cesar's story, turning the leader into a messiah. I was a bit underwhelmed by his achievements. In the Apes lore, Cesar is supposed to have ushered a new civilisation. And yet, there is somehting poetic about that last scene.