‘War for the Planet of the Apes’ Review

Director: Matt Reeves

Writers: Matt Reeves and Mark Bomback

Cast: Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn, Karin Konoval, Terry Notary, Ty Olsson, Michael Adamthwaite, Gabriel Chavarria and Amiah Miller

Synopsis: After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mystic quest to avenge his kind.

 

*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

Planet of the Apes was a movie that changed the movie scene due to its amazing practical effects, visual storytelling – apes of horses! – and vision of the future. Sure the series went to some crazy places and out there ideas. No serious watch them or look it up, but the series always had a special place in people’s hearts, and after a lackluster attempt with Tim Burton’s version – although credit where credit is due with those practical effects – the series got a much needed shot-in-the-arm with the reboot back in 2011 in Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

Lead by motion-capture pioneer Andy Serkis with WETA Digital helping with the groundbreaking special effects, Rise became an instant hit with fans and nonfans alike. Serkis’ Caesar was a compelling character that made us feel and root for him to win, which meant yes, humans are the bad guys and had to be stopped. We then got Dawn of the Planet of the Apes which added an extra layer, it wasn’t humans vs. apes, it was humans vs. apes vs. apes, thanks to Toby Kebbell’s Koba, who hated what humans did to apes, and Caesar, who saw the good in humans once and believes that there could be peace. Now, of course, we get War for the Planet of the Apes, a great end to a great trilogy.

War picks up a couple years after the events of Dawn, and we now sees Caesar (Andy Serkis) with the remaining apes living in hiding in the woods from a group of soldiers lead by The Colonel (Woody Harrelson). After two attacks on their home, Caesar has had enough and decides to get revenge. Breaking away from the apes, and sending them to a new promised home, Caesar is followed by his trusted and closest friends in Maurice (Karin Konoval), Rocket (Terry Notary) and Luca (Michael Adamthwaite). Eventually they come across a young girl, played by Amiah Miller, who has lost the ability to speak, and Bad Ape (Steve Zahn), an ape that has learned to talk just be being around humans. What follows is Caesar struggling with his darker side to get revenge, but also still trying to remain the leader to his people

Despite the summer releases of all the films, and the massive – and impressive –special effects, this Apes franchise never really feels like a summer movie. They could have easily turned this into a full-fledged apes vs. humans series, but instead they made every film about making Caesar a fully fleshed out and complex character. The film could be looked at as character study on both sides. Are the apes the heroes, or are the humans. Yes, there are good humans like James Franco’s Will or Jason Clarke’s Malcolm, but for every good few humans, there are extremely bad humans like Harrelson’s The Colonel, who take the extreme.

Caesar fights for his people and to keep them safe, but so do the humans, and in this case Woody Harrelson’s The Colonel has a reasonable case for his actions. Although anyone in that kind of position will probably say their position is right, but in this case, he’s somewhat right. That said, that is another reason why I love this rebooted trilogy. It gives you both sides of the argument and lets you choose, but Caesar is such a great character and seeing his journey for three films now, you have to root for him.

Of course, some of that goes to Andy Serkis. Serkis’ subtle nuances always made Caesar feel more human, if that makes some sense. Here it’s the same, Caesar is still conflicted, but still has his purpose but is stuck figuring out if he wants to continue doing things his way or if he falls for the darkness that Koba told him he would and should do. That’s why his advisory here in Harrelson’s The Colonel is a great one. Like Caesar, The Colonel only has one purpose and will do whatever it takes to complete it.

When it comes to the rest of the cast, it’s hard to really judge all of them considering they are mostly all motion-capture. When it comes to the new characters in Bad Ape, he brings some humor to the otherwise dark toned film, and all of it works and is not forced. Then there’s Amiah Miller’s character who is a huge homage and Easter Egg to the original series that ties in where the future of the series can go, but also do their own version. Also, credit to Miller, who’s still relativity new to Hollywood, on what she was able to pull off here given that she doesn’t talk at all.

Speaking of homage and Easter Eggs, War does have a few more besides Miller’s character, but there is something that I really liked that they added that connects to the original. It was something that feels small, but when you look at past films, and potentially future films, it completely works and makes sense – although part of me kind of wishes they don’t make any more after this.

All in all, War for the Planet of the Apes has it all; action, drama, humor, beautiful cinematography by Michael Seresin and score by Michael Giacchino. More importantly, War is a fitting end to a near perfect trilogy that gave us a great character in Caesar played by Andy Serkis. While part of me would somewhat like to see where this franchise goes from here, the other part of me hopes they leave it at that.

War for the Planet of the Apes

4.5 out of 5

July Movie Releases

Hello!

It’s July everybody! The Summer Movie Season is almost over, but it’s not going down without a fight. July has some great movies coming out, especially some anticipated movies for some. So let’s get to it.

 

7th

Limited Release: A Ghost Story (Drama – A24)

Directed by David Lowery (Ain’t Them Bodies Saints and Pete’s Dragon), in this singular exploration of legacy, love, loss and the enormity of existence, a recently deceased, white-sheeted ghost returns to his suburban home to try to reconnect with his bereft wife. The film stars Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara.

 

Spider-Man: Homecoming (Action Adventure – Sony Pictures/Marvel Studios/Columbia Pictures/Pascal Pictures)

Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland) begins to navigate his newfound identity as the web-slinging superhero. Of course, this marks the first Spider-Man film were our favorite web-slinger is now part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film also stars Robert Downey Jr., Marisa Tomei, Zendaya, Michael Keaton, Jon Favreau, Tony Revolori, Michael Chernus, Bokeem Woodbine, Logan Marshall-Green, Angourie Rice, and Donald Glover.

 

14th

Limited Release: Lady Macbeth

Based on the novel by Nikolai Leskov titled “Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk,” a 19th century young bride is sold into marriage to a middle-aged man.

 

Wish Upon (Horror – Broad Green Pictures, Busted Shark Productions)

A teenage girl (Joey King) discovers a box that carries magic powers and a deadly price for using them. The film looks pretty creepy, but I don’t know if I’m completely sold on it yet. The film also stars Ki Hong Lee, Sherilyn Fenn, Elisabeth Rohm, and Ryan Phillippe.

 

War for the Planet of the Apes (Action Drama – 20th Century Fox/Chernin Entertainment)

Caesar (Andy Serkis) and the remaining apes are left to deal with humanities latest attack from a dangerous and determined leader known as The Colonel (Woody Harrelson). The film look fantastic, and this being the third chapter it looks like it could be the best one yet. War for the Planet of the Apes also stars Judy Greer, Steve Zahn, Amiah Miller, Terry Notary and Karin Konoval.

 

21st

Girls Trip (Comedy – Universal Pictures/Will Packer Productions)

When four lifelong friends travel to New Orleans for the annul Essence Festival, sisterhoods are rekindled, wild sides are rediscovered, and there’s enough dancing, drinking, brawling, and romancing to make the Big Easy blush. The film stars Regina Hall, Jada Pinkett Smith, Tiffany Haddish, Deborah Ayorinde, Larenz Tate Kate Walsh and Queen Latifah.

 

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (Sci-Fi Action Adventure – EuropaCorp/Fundamental Films/Gulf Films)

Based on the French comic by Pierre Christin and directed by Luc Besson, time-traveling agent Valerian (Dane DeHaan) is sent to investigate a galactic empire, along with his partner Laureline (Cara Delevingne). The film also stars Ethan Hawke, Rihanna, Sam Spruell, Rutger Hauer, Clive Owen and the voice of John Goodman.

 

Dunkirk (Action Drama – Warner Bros./RatPac-Dune Entertainment/Syncopy)

Directed and written by Christopher Nolan, Allied soldiers from Belgium, Britain, Canada and France are surrounded by the German army and evacuated during a fierce battle in World War II. I got to see the special preview during the IMAX screening of Rogue One, and I seriously took a deep breath afterwards because it was that intense. So if the film is anything like that, I think we’re in for a great ride. Dunkirk stars Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, James D’Arcy, Aneurin Barnard, Jack Lowden, Harry Styles and Kenneth Branagh.

 

28th

Limited Release: An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power (Documentary – Paramount Pictures, Participant Media, Actual Films)

A decade after An Inconvenient Truth brought climate change into the heart of popular culture comes the follow-up that shows just how close we are to a real energy revolution.

 

The Emoji Movie (Animation – Sony Pictures Animation, Columbia Pictures)

It’s hard to think that an Emoji movie will have a real plot, but it does. Gene (T.J. Miller), a muli-expressional emoji, sets out on a journey to become a normal emoji. The voice cast includes James Corden, Ilana Glazer, Steven Wright and Patrick Stewart.

 

Atomic Blonde (Thriller – Focus Features, 87Eleven, Sierra/Affinity, Closed on Mondays Entertainment, Denver and Delilah Productions)

Based on the graphic novel by Antony Johnston, an undercover MI6 agent (Charlize Theron) is sent to Berlin during the Cold War to investigate the murder of a fellow agent and recover a missing list of double agents. The film also stars Sofia Boutella, James McAvoy, John Goodman, Eddie Marsan, James Faulkner and Toby Jones.

 

What are you looking forward to?

Spoiler Review Preview for The Movie Pit Podcast

The Movie Pit Podcast Spoiler Reviews is a new feature to The Movie Pit Podcast umbrella, where I – and eventually others (hopefully) – will do SPOILER-filled reviews to some of the bigger films that have been released. I’ve already done spoiler-filled reviews for Snatched, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie, Wonder Woman, It Comes At Night and The Mummy. While I won’t be reviewing every film I see, I will do a good chunk of them – again, hopefully. So here I’ll be giving you a brief preview of what I’ll be reviewing and give a little bit of my hopes for the films.

I do want to mention that limited release films, aka indie films, are not included on the list due to, well, their limited release schedule. However, I will review some of the indie/limited released movies I do watch.

Finally, you can see the list only runs until the end of August. I’ll do another list for the rest of the year when we get to that point. Of course, this won’t affect the written non-spoiler reviews, as they will come out as well.

 

The Rest of June

Confirmed Reviews:

Transformers: The Last Knight

To be honest, I’m not looking forward toward The Last Knight. At this point, I couldn’t care less about Transformers anymore. This is a shame, because these movies should have been good, but instead they have transformed (no pun intended) into utter nonsense that I can’t bare with anymore. To be honest, the only reason I continue to torture myself with these movies is because I feel like I have to, and because my sister still loves these movies and drags us out to watch them. Finally, let’s face it, I started a podcast reviewing big films – I’ll torture myself for you guys.

 

Baby Driver

I love Edgar Wright. Everything he’s done I’ve either liked or loved, and Baby Driver looks like a different beast although, with Wright’s signature touch. It also has an incredible cast, looks damn good, and has been getting nothing but awesome reviews from fans – and celebrities – lucky enough to watch it already.

 

Potential Reviews

Despicable Me 3

The House

 

 

July

Confirmed Reviews

Spider-Man: Homecoming

Let’s face it, this was always going to get reviewed. Spider-Man became an instant with his short appearance in Captain America: Civil War, but now we get to see him in his own film and stretch his legs out a bit more with the character. I like Tom Holland, so far, as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, and the fact that we get to see Michael Keaton play the villain – Vulture – is pretty damn awesome and worth the price of the ticket alone.

 

War for the Planets of the Apes

I’ve really enjoyed the two rebooted Planet of the Apes’ films. I think what Andy Serkis has done with Caesar is nothing short of incredible and I can’t wait to see what the potential last chapter of his story has in store for us.

 

Dunkirk

Christopher Nolan is back with this war drama that jumped to my must-watch list when I saw five minutes of the film in front of the IMAX screening of Rogue One. Everything about this movie, based on a real event, looks tension-filled, dramatic and an all around great film. You really can’t go wrong with Nolan.

 

Atomic Blonde

I was already looking forward toward Atomic Blonde when the cast came together. However, what sold me on the film was that first trailer that showed Charlize Theron kicking everyone’s ass John Wick style – the film is directed by one of the John Wick directors David Leitch. Oh, were you expecting me to write more? Well, I won’t, because that’s it. I want to see Theron kick people’s asses John Wick style.

 

Potential Reviews

Wish Upon

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

 

 

August

Confirmed Reviews

The Dark Tower

This has been a project I’ve always read about on the movie news cycle since I started keeping up with the movies news (circa 2005). So finally seeing it become a real thing is great, and with a great lead in Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey playing the villain, The Man in Black, I can’t wait to finally see The Dark Tower on the big screen.

 

Detroit

Kathryn Bigelow returns to the big screen and is tackling the notorious Detroit Riots. Although the film itself won’t be about the actual riots, it does set interconnected stories during those dangerous days.

 

Annabelle: Creation

While Annabelle lacked a certain punch, the sequel – which is a prequel – looks like it will make up for that. The film will see the titled creation of the Annabelle doll as it begins to terrorize a family and children from an orphanage. Oh, and the trailer is scary as shit.

 

The Hitman’s Bodyguard

The quintessential Samuel L. Jackson movie where it seems like he’ll be saying “mother fucker” every two seconds, this looks pretty damn hilarious. And you can’t go wrong with Jackson and Ryan Reynolds together.

 

Logan Lucky

Steven Soderbergh returns to the big screen with this pretty funny looking heist film. I’m sure seeing Daniel Craig play this goofball will be worth the price of admission alone.

 

Potential Reviews

The Glass Castle

Kidnap

 

So what are you looking forward toward the most this month?

Favorite/Standout Cinematography, Action/Fight Sequences, Score/Soundtrack, Visual Effects & Trailers of 2016

This is a continuation of my Favorite/Standouts of the Year, this time focusing more on the genre side of things with my favorite fights/action sequences, cinematography, score/soundtrack, visual effects and trailers.

 

Fight/Action Sequence

Assassin’s Creed: Run Through the City

Assassin’s Creed’s best moments where set in the past, and a majority of them were action sequences. The standout sequences was the run through the city that involves Aguilar (Michael Fassbender) and Maria (Ariane Labed) on the run from Ojeda (Hovik Keuchkerian) and his men. Along with small fights in tight quarters or on rooftops, the scene may be the best scene in the whole film.

 

Captain America: Civil War: Airport Battle & Captain America/Winter Soldier vs. Iron Man

Okay, this is a copout since this these are most of the action sequences, but let’s face it, Civil War, was filled with great action sequences. Of course, the biggest highlight was the Airport Battle that was unbelievably nerdy. The second big fight is Captain America and The Winter Soldier vs. Iron Man in a fight that is much more personal that I think anyone could have imagined being in a comic book film.

 

Deadpool: Deadpool Takes Out Convoy

While the scene is just a modified version of the “leaked” footage that came out the year before, the convoy sequence stood out to me because it happens in such a confined space and it still allows Ryan Reynolds to give us very Deadpool like lines.

 

Doctor Strange: The Ancient One vs. Kaecilius/Zealots & Strange vs. Kaecilius and Zealots

The fight scenes in Doctor Strange brought a new style to fight scenes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Magic. Not only that, that opening fight scenes between The Ancient One and the Zealots and Kaecilius showed the MCU isn’t scared of going a more martial arts route.

 

Ip Man 3 – Ip Man vs. Frank & Ip Man vs. Cheung Tin-chi

The Donnie Yen Ip-Man films are always filled with great fight scenes and Ip-Man 3 was no different. The two standout fights for me was the heavily promoted fight with Mike Tyson – who plays a mob boss named Frank – and the final fight between Ip Man and Cheung Tin-chi (Jin Zhang). The fight with Frank is actually good, and while arguably a stunt fight (they could have easily casted someone else), it doesn’t disappoint too much. As for the final fight with Cheung Tin-chi, this one was building almost from the beginning of the film, and when it finally happens, you can totally feel the emotion behind every punch and movement they make.

 

Moana: Moana and Maui Escape Kakamora

Another animated sequence that stood out to me was this Mad Max: Fury Road-inspired chase scene in Moana. Right down to the beating drums, and weirdly dressed Kakamora’s, the chase was something I’m sure George Miller would be proud of.

 

Rogue One: Chirrut Imwe vs. Stormtroppers, Final Battle, Vadar Boards

I’d be surprised if this doesn’t end up on other peoples lists. Personally, seeing Donnie Yen mess up some Stormtroopers was awesome. However, the final battle on Scarif was what the film was building up to, and it did not disappoint. Finally, the Vadar scene. I won’t give it away too much if you haven’t seen it, but wow!

 

Storks: Junior and Tulip vs. The Penguins

Animated “fight/action” sequences usually involve comedy and aren’t really taken seriously, and you know what? Sometimes that’s okay. Storks did that with their fight scenes that involves are heroes, Junior and Tulip, going up against penguins. What makes it standout – besides the homage to Aliens – all of it happens as they try to make the least amount of noise possible so they don’t wake up the baby.

 

The Revenant – Opening Ambush

The opening ambush scene was really something to watch unfold. The cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki is done in the classic Lubezki trope in that it’s done in shot continuous take. Not only that, it happens very fast and is so chaotic, that it makes it a standout scene.

 

X-Men: Apocalypse: Quicksilver’s Rescue & Wolverine Breaks Free

While Quicksilver’s Rescue was awesome to watch, seeing Hugh Jackman unleashed a bit of Berserker Rage on Stryker’s men was an even more awesome sight to see. Especially knowing that Jackman is on his way out the door as Wolverine/Logan

 

 

Honorable Mention

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: Batman vs. Knyazev’s Men

Deadpool: Deadpool vs. Ajax (Finale)

Ghostbusters: Ghostbusters vs. Times Square Ghosts

Hacksaw Ridge: First Attack

Headshot: Ishmael vs. Tano & Ishmael vs. Lee

Kill Zone 2: Chatchai vs. Kit (Prison Riot) & Chatchai/Kit vs. Ko Hung aka The Warden

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children: Skeletons vs. Hollows

Star Trek Beyond: Enterprise Takeover

Suicide Squad: Suicide Squad/Katana/Rick Flag’s Unit vs. Monsters (Streets)

The Magnificent Seven: Finale Shootout

Warcraft: Durotan vs. Gul’dan

 

 

Cinematography

Emmanuel Lubezki – The Revenant

Emmanuel Lubezki has already made himself a well-known name amongst cinematographers, so it came as no surprise that his work in The Revenant was amazing and beautiful to watch.

 

Jarin Blaschke – The Witch

I’ve never heard of Jarin Blaschke, but I will be on the lookout for whatever he does next because his work in The Witch was equal parts creepy, eerie and gut-wrenching scary as hell. I’m not usually a fan of quotes in movie trailers, but the quote in the trailers that basically said it feels like something you shouldn’t be watching it completely true.

 

Linus Sandgren – La La Land

La La Land feels like an ultimate homage to old timey Hollywood films right down to cinematography during the musical sections of the film. Also, the fact that they used real location around Los Angeles is an added bonus (says the man from outside Chicago).

 

Pedro Luque – Don’t Breathe

One of the reasons that Don’t Breathe worked – at least for me – is the look of it all. The creepy house with the overall dark look made the film a more effective horror thriller. Pedro Luque really had a great eye for it all, and lets add the surprisingly good blackout sequences using night vision to show the pure terror of our main characters was great.

 

Zach Kuperstein – The Eyes of My Mother

The Eyes of My Mother is probably one of the creepiest films cinematography-wise. The film is shot in black and white, and for some reason, it made it a hell of a lot more creepier. It makes you imagine what the colors would look like, but even its nature shots and more distributing shots, the film is still beautiful to look at.

 

 

Honorable Mentions

Bradford Young – Arrival

Don Burgess – The Conjuring 2

Marc Spicer – Lights Out

Natasha Braier – The Neon Demon

Pasha Kapinos/Vsevolod Kaptur/Fedor Lyass – Hardcore Henry

Roman Osin – The Autopsy of Jane Doe

Stephane Fontaine – Jackie

 

 

Score/Soundtrack

Dario Marianelli – Kubo and the Two Strings

Kubo and the Two Strings is already a great film, but one of the main reasons is because of the music. The music connects to theme they’re going for, and Regina Spektor’s cover of “My Guitar Gently Weeps” is beautiful.

 

Justin Hurwitz – La La Land

Easily one of, if not, the best soundtracks of the year, La La Land’s soundtrack is as vivid as the set-pieces it plays over. You can easily be addict to the soundtrack, I know I was, because as soon as I walked out of the theater I bought the soundtrack.

 

Mark Korven – The Witch

The Witch is already eerily creepy with its cinematography, but add on the music that was created by Mark Korven, you have yourself an all around horror film of nightmares.

 

Opetaia Foa’i, Mark Mancina, and Lin-Manuel Miranda – Moana

Come on, let’s face it – you’ve been singing songs from Moana since you’ve seen it, right? Okay then.

 

Musical Department in Sing Street 

Sing Street doesn’t have one specific person attached for the music. Some were covers, but Drive it Like You Stole It, is one of the best new songs of the year.

 

Honorable Mentions

Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL – Batman Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Johann Johannsson – Arrival

Lukasz Pawel Buda/Samuel Scott/Conrad Wedde – Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Ryuichi Sakamoto, Carsten Nicolai, and Bryce Dessner – The Revenant

 

 

Visual Effects

Doctor Strange

Marvel introduced us to the magical realm and other dimensions, and I don’t know if anyone other than Scott Derrickson could have introduced us to that. The visuals were just amazing to see, even with the Inception-style effects, that aren’t as dominate as you would think, the visuals made Doctor Strange a standout Marvel film.

 

The Jungle Book

The Jungle Book is a film that probably should have failed, but it didn’t – at all. The film is bursting with phenomenal visuals, that even after you find out that almost everything was created with visuals, you watch wondering, was that real? Honestly, The Jungle Book was arguably some of the best CGI we’ve ever seen.

 

 

Honorable Mentions

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Ghostbusters

Pete’s Dragon

The BFG

 

 

Trailers

Captain America: Civil War Trailer 2

 

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

 

 

Free Fire

 

 

Kong: Skull Island

 

 

Logan

 

 

War for the Planet of the Apes

 

 

Wonder Woman Comic Con

 

 

Honorable Mentions

Get Out

First Official ‘Suicide Squad’ Trailer

The Birth of a Nation Teaser

First Sausage Party Trailer

 

So that’s it ladies and gentlemen.

What are some of your favorites, and be on the lookout for the big lists next week!

New Podcast: This Weeks Trailers – Spider-Man: Homecoming, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Baywatch and More

The Movie Pit Podcast is live!