MikeyB's Movie Night: War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)

Director: Matt Reeves
Starring: Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn

 I've mentioned before I was lucky enough to grow up with parents who loved movies and a mother who managed a video store for a lot of my young life. This was very fortunate for me as I got to rent a lot of the classic films that my parents grew up with. The Planet of the Apes series is one of them, and the original series of five films quickly became some of my favorite Sci-Fi movies of all time. In 2001 Tim Burton took a crack at remaking/rebooting the series with very mixed results and the franchise lay dormant for ten years, until 20th Century Fox hit the reset button once again with 2011's Rise of the Planet of the Apes. I loved this new beginning for the series and was very excited by where this new direction could take the series. Andy Serkis' "motion capture" performance as Caesar, the main "ape", was nothing short of breathtaking. In 2014 a sequel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, was released and was in my opinion even better then "Rise". Serkis once again blew me away with the range of emotion and depth he brought to Caesar, and Toby Kebbell, a personal favorite of mine, was also wonderful as the main antagonist "Koba". Well it is 2017 now and I'm happy to say that yet another entry into the "Apes" franchise is upon us! So how does this third film in the new timeline stack up? Lets dive right in and find out!

 After a human paramilitary faction known as Alpha & Omega inflicts terrible casualties upon him and his tribe of intelligent apes, Caesar (Andy Serkis) sets out for revenge against the leader of "AO", a ruthless Colonel (Woody Harrelson) who will stop at nothing to destroy each and every one of Caesar's tribe.

 I'm very happy to report that "War" is indeed a very worthy addition to the "Apes" franchise. Once again "Dawn" helmer Matt Reeves is back in the Director's chair doing another fantastic job. Harrelson is pitch perfect as the tyrannical Colonel, and Serkis once again absolutely smashes it out of the park with is portrayal of Caesar. I honestly think it will be a crime if the "Academy" doesn't at the very least give him some sort of special recognition at this coming Oscar ceremony. The great thing about the best entries in this series is that not only are they thrilling pieces of entertainment, but they have an emotional resonance that very few "blockbusters" could ever aspire to. "War" is no different in this respect. I found myself once again invested and enthralled in the plight of the characters on screen who, though not human themselves, display the deepest and most "human" performances I have seen all year.

Trivia from IMDB for War for the Planet of the Apes:

 In the first film, Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011), Caesar could only utter a few words, most notably "No!" In the second film, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014), his vocabulary had greatly increased, able to speak in nearly full sentences with syntax and grammar, but still with a rough tone and cadence to his voice. In this film, he is able to speak nearly identical to what a human can produce, indicating his growth into personhood.

 Andy SerkisTerry Notary, and Karin Konoval are the only actors to be in all three of this Planet of the Apes trilogy. Serkis plays Caesar, the chimp leader of the apes; Notary plays Rocket, a chimp who is one of Caesar's most trusted followers; and Konoval plays Maurice, an orangutan that is another of Caesar's most faithful followers.

 According to director Matt Reeves, the name of the group of rebelling humans are the Alpha & Omega, a reference to the bomb the mutants worshiped in Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970). The logo on their helments and flag matches the original logo on the bomb.

MikeyB's Planet of the Apes Series Rankings: