Starring: Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Karin Konoval, Steve Zahn, Amiah Miller
Directed By: Matt Reeves
The Plot: Caesar (Serkis) is trying desperately to protect his apes from the threat of a tyrannical Colonel (Harrison), who believes the only path to the survival of the human race, is by forcing extinction onto the apes.
What Works: Almost every single thing about this movie worked for me. Andy Serkis. One day, I want to literally bow before him so that he can know how amazing I think he is as an actor. He’s proven time and time again that he is a phenomenal actor, and his performance as Caesar continues to absolutely amaze me. He has become the core compass for the heart of the film, and his work here is as stunning as it was in Dawn and Rise, just with a new set of problems and goals. Yes, the unsung heroes of the supporting mo-cap team also deserve praise. Specifically Karin Konoval who has been doing great work as Maurice now for three films. Maurice has become such a well rounded character over three films, and now is the character that grounds Caesar. If Caesar is the films moral compass, Maurice is his. The visual effects are breathtaking. Never have these apes looked more realistic and felt more present than they do in this film. Alos, I loved the score for this film. About halfway through, I actually took a moment to myself and thought “Damn, this score is amazing.” So far, my favorite score of the year. I liked Woody Harrelson as the villain, and I appreciate his somewhat toned down/reigned in performance. I was worried from the trailers that he was a scene stealer type of character, but he’s very realistic in keeping with the general tone of the film. He doesn’t chew the scenery. In fact, he compliments it. He becomes scenery himself, in order to allow Caesar a full range of control over the scenes and the film. This really is all about Caesar and a triumph of a finale for one of the best trilogies in existence.
What Doesn’t Work: Arguably though, it is my least favorite of the trilogy for one reason. One glaring, but rather huge mistake. Bad Ape. I couldn’t stand him. He’s the Jar Jar Binks of this universe. He doesn’t fit in tonally with anything in the entire trilogy. I don’t know why they felt like this third film needed a comedic character, but it didn’t. He ruins scenes that he’s in. He pulls focus from Caesar, in a film otherwise carefully crafted to pull attention toward him. Steve Zahn also has a kinda cartoonish voice, which just made Bad Ape even more annoying. I wish there was a directors cut of this film without Bad Ape. That would be amazing (though admittedly hard to follow since Bad Ape becomes a somewhat pivotal character).
Final Word; This is such a strong finish for the series. Honestly, if Bad Ape wasn’t in the film, I’d give this film an A. Maybe even an A+. I think it does such a good job of wrapping up the story (PLEASE DON’T MAKE A FOURTH FILM), and wrapping up Caesar’s storyline. It’s everything I wanted since Rise, except for Bad Ape. It’s the culmination of a fantastic journey we didn’t see coming. I know a lot of people were convinced we didn’t need another Planet Of The Apes, but this trilogy has proven that if you’re going to remake something that’s at least semi-classic, you really have to have a unique perspective and vision in order to succeed. I’m sad that this series is over, but I will still celebrate it for blowing me away every step of the way. A fantastic finish to the series, if you ignore Jar Jar.
Final Grade: A-