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War for the Planet of the Apes

3/5

An unusually poignant ending to a series plagued by tonal inconsistencies, War for the Planet of the Apes doesn’t have the most complex, nor the most original, script in the world. A mishmash of Vietnam War references and prison break tropes plague this film, and ultimately serve its attempt to become relevant poorly, but Mark Bomback and Matt Reeves recognised the most important thing that needed to happen to this film: pare it back to what Andy Serkis can do with his face. And good god, he can do a lot.

Andy Serkis, of course, is only one part of a team of mocap experts and CGI artists that brought Caesar to life, but while most other mocap actors merely play the part of a person playing an ape, Serkis, as ever, recognises the absolute freedom a CGI model gives him to hide his human body behind the curtain. Caesar is, in this film more than any other, a thing never seen before in cinema before: a creature which looks legitimate, real, and imbued with genuine life. Sadly, Matt Reeves, director and co-screenwriter, was fully aware of this uniqueness, and attempted desperately to make a film for all time. Instead, it retreads the line of so many films before it, and squanders the chance it had to really show off the talent, on and offscreen, it had working on it. While I sing the praises of Andy Serkis’ mocap expertise, and frequently call (into the void) for a Motion Capture Oscar, if there WAS a mocap Oscar Karin Konoval and Ty Olsson would definitely be making Andy Serkis work for it. He’s surrounded by talented actors and make no mistake, it’s especially hard for Konoval, whose character had minimal face movements and speech, and relied almost entirely on the body language an orangutan could feasibly make.

A fine if unimaginative completion to an often-inconsistent series, and a tour de force for the increasingly talented mocap-and-VFX combination of Andy Serkis and the Imaginarium. The visual effects Oscar this year is unquestionable.