Director: Matt Reeves
Cast: Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn, Karin Konoval, Amiah Miller, Terry Notary.
The tension between the Apes and the humans has finally reached its boiling point in the sequel to 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. It is once again directed by Matt Reeves and stars Andy Serkis as Ceaser, an evolved chimpanzee possessing high intelligence and the commander of the ape legion. The threat to the Ape’s existence presents itself in the form of mankind, more specifically an army led by a military general known as Colonel (Woody Harrelson)
It’s a fight for survival, humans want to get rid of the apes because they caused the virus that is wiping out humans and Apes simply want to survive. The film opens with a group of soldiers encircling the Ape settlement, their mission is spray painted on their helmets in bold white letters “Monkey Killer”. The opening sequence sets you up for what to expect visually, the motion capture for the Apes is beyond belief and every scene is beautifully crafted. When it comes to the story however what we get is entirely different.
This is not a film that progresses from one big action sequence to the next as the trailers make you believe. The script is developed around Ceaser, thus the audience spends a large part of the film with him and his crew. Ceaser is in a state of inner conflict, all he wants is his Ape colony to survive and live in peace but the humans do not want to respond in the same manner, in addition, the Colonel takes something precious away from Ceaser which leads him on a search for vengeance.
This is where the film succeeds, instead of bouncing between Ceaser and the Colonel as would most movies of this genre, we stick with Ceaser and experience his world to the full. Matt Reeves adds one key few element that makes the journey captivating: Music.
The musical score by Michael Giacchino is perfect for this film, in fact, one can say the exposition between characters is minimal. By using music and outstanding camera work, Matt Reeves is able to capture emotion superbly, especially as the film draws to a conclusion. Word of advice, carry a packet of tissues, it’s a tear jerker. The colonel plays a key role in the chaos and it is fascinating to see. He feels it’s up to him to save humanity from the Apes and he takes serious measure to accomplish his goals. Woody Harrelson as always is stellar in his performance.
Overall, this is definitely a must watch in theaters, not only was this a solid addition to the franchise but a good film overall. You can also check out my review of Baby Driver here.