'War For The Planet Of The Apes'

'War For The Planet Of The Apes'
U/A; Sci-Fi/Drama
Director: Matt Reeves

Cast: Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Judy Greer, Steve Zahn

The title says it all. The storyline may not be exactly original but the treatment here is definitely unique. This film opens with soldiers, nicknames on their helmets, marching to weed out the enemy - through the lushly thickset forest brush. It's possibly the last stand. Much of the human population has been wiped out by the Simian virus that has rendered them ape - and on the other hand, the Apes who were experimented upon have developed their cognition and skills much closer to human ability. Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his apes are forced into a deadly conflict with an army of humans led by a ruthless colonel (Woody Harrelson). And the war between them is not only about survival of the fittest it's also about ideals and principles that were forgotten over time.

Director Matt Reeves makes it obvious he is borrowing heavily from America's failed experiments in Vietnam. And in cinematic terms it's a kind of homage to 'Apocalypse Now' and to a much lesser extent 'Platoon.' Even the main villain is a sort of Colonel with shaved head and a dark history. Also Caesar, the leader of the apes, is shown as wrestling with his darker instincts while embarking on his own mythic quest to avenge his kind. Caesar is the centerpiece of the film, the real soul so-to-speak. It's his journey of evolution that we are actually seeing here.

Brilliantly scripted by Mark Bomback & Matt Reeves, the film challenges the norm by keeping Caesar as its main focus. And the forced perspective is revelatory alright. We see Caesar and his three companions, including a mute girl Nova (Amiah Miller), working their way to the mysterious human base - an apt setting for a blitzkrieg that will take its own toll.

Cinematographer Michael Seresin, of 'Birdy' and 'Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban' fame, lends the visuals a rich and lush color palette that seeks to emphasize the wonders of nature while ruing the destruction that man has wrought. And the CGI work is unrivalled. Each Simian character has several dimensions that render them familiar and unique at the same time. The action is spread out over a vast canvas and the journey so ordained is just as mind-blowing as the destination. Composer Michael Giacchino's fascinating score channels tunes from films of the past, while allowing for large segments of silences to enhance the experience. The tension thus set-up is thick, heavy and palpable. This film is strongly allegoric. The evils of war, obsession, revenge and the liberating aspects of sacrifice are delineated in exciting, funny and unforgettably poignant assay.

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