In 1933 New York, an overly ambitious movie producer coerces his cast and hired ship crew to travel to the mysterious Skull Island, where they encounter Kong, a giant ape who is immediately smitten with leading lady Ann Darrow.
When their headquarters are destroyed and the world is held hostage, the Kingsman's journey leads them to the discovery of an allied spy organization in the United States. These two elite secret organizations must band together to defeat a common enemy.
As a war between humankind and monstrous sea creatures wages on, a former pilot and a trainee are paired up to drive a seemingly obsolete special weapon in a desperate effort to save the world from the apocalypse.
Caesar and his apes are forced into a deadly conflict with an army of humans led by a ruthless Colonel. 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 their species and the future of the planet.Written by
The Colonel carries a Colt Combat Commander handgun. See more »
When Caesar scans the camp with the binoculars, Luca asks in sign language if he's spotted the Colonel. Caesar responds despite the fact that he is looking through binoculars and couldn't possibly have seen Luca signing. See more »
Is that a trench? It looks like there's more of them inside.
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The 20th Century Fox fanfare is played through the use of Congo drums instead of the traditional percussion instruments. See more »
2011's "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" was the one of the big movie surprises for me of that year. With staggeringly good mo-cap for the apes and a touching and memorable story it was for me was a 10* classic. 2014's "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" whilst also good took a slight backward step. With "War", the form is back almost to top notch, and this is a summer release at last deserving of the suffix "blockbuster".
We have moved a number of years forwards from the events of "Dawn" and society as we know it has crumbled away still further: even the "Holidays are Coming" Coke lorry is no longer in service, so things MUST be bad! We begin the film with the apes having a nice 'Centre Parcs' break when their reverie and cappuccinos are rudely interrupted by the attacking forces of "The Colonel" (Woody Harrelson, "Triple 9", "Zombieland"). For The Colonel is intent on tracking down and killing ape-leader Caesar (Andy Serkis, "LOTR").
After things get decidedly personal, Caesar leaves his young son Cornelius (in a nice nod to the Roddy McDowell role in the original films) to find and kill The Colonel. So follows a "True Grit" style pursuit/revenge chase, made more similar to this analogy by the picking up of a waif-like mute girl (the excellent Amiah Miller). I found this to be a really emotional plot line, with Caesar torn between the animal drive of his revenge and his role as a leader to his whole community.
The film analogies continue as we take in a "Shining"-style winter hotel; a gritty Prisoner-of-War camp escape drama ("The Great Esc- ape"?); a barricades battle in the style of Helm's Deep in "LOTR: The Two Towers"; and a full-on Coppola-style helicopter-based war sequence ("Ape-ocalypse now", as graffiti in the film declares).
Once again, the mo-cap ability to express true emotions on the faces of the apes is mind-blowing, with Serkis again being outstanding as is Steve Zahn ("Dallas Buyer's Club") adding some (very funny) comic relief as "Bad Ape".
While Woody Harrelson is not everyone's cup of tea (including mine), here I found him to be actually very good ("SO EMOTIONAL"!) as the half crazed dictator forcing beings he sees as less worthy than his kind to build a wall. (That's just SO familiar... think dammit... think...!) There's a really cool plot twist in The Colonel's character arc that I really didn't see coming. Just so cool.
Another star of the film for me was Michael Giacchino's music which is simply awesome. Starting with a superbly retro rendition of the 20th Century Fox theme (not top of my list: "The Simpson's Movie" still holds that spot for me!) Giacchino decorates every scene with great themes and like all great film music some of it you barely notice. A dramatic telling by the Colonel of his back-story is accompanied by sonorous music that is similar in its power to James Horner's classic "Electronic Battlefield" in "Patriot Games": only when the scene finishes and the music stops do you appreciate how central it was to the emotion of the scene.
The script by "Dawn" collaborators Mark Bomback and (director) Matt Reeves is eventful and packs a dramatic punch particularly in the last half of the film. The talented Mr Reeves (who also directed "Cloverfield" and "Let Me In" and is assigned to direct the next Ben Affleck outing as "The Batman") directs with panache, never letting the foot come off the tension pedal.
On the downside, that "last half of the film" is still 70 minutes away, and whilst I appreciate a leisurely pace for properly setting characters and motivations in place, getting to those simply brilliant scenes set at "the border" is a bit of a slog that might have been tightened up and moved along a bit quicker. Also, while talking about editing, I would have personally ended the film about 90 seconds before they did.
I saw this in 3D, but the effects are subtle at best (although there is a nice binocular rangefinder view). In my opinion it's not worth going out of your way to experience in 3D.
But overall I loved this movie. The film is chock full of visual delights for film lovers (one of my favourites being "Bedtime for Bonzo" - a nice historical film reference - written on the back of a soldier's helmet). An epic action film with a strong emotional core to the story that genuinely moved me. There may be other spin-off Planet of the Apes films to follow. But if they left this here, as a near-perfect trilogy, that would be absolutely fine by me.
(For the full graphical review of the film, please visit bob-the- movie-man.com. Thanks).
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