When 20th Century Fox rebooted Planet of the Apes in 2001 the movie going audience breathed a sigh of relief. Finally, Planet of the Apes had been returned to it’s former glory and in the capable hands of Tim Burton. But despite the critical success that Apes was, Fox and Burton never moved forward with a sequel. Perhaps they were afraid they would be unable to match the success of the first. That turned out to be a valid concern.
10 years later Fox returned to the Apes franchise in the dismal form of Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Rise did what most reboots tend to do, it sucked the life out of the source material. Unfortunately they don’t know when to quit because three years later saw the release of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. An inferior followup to an already inferior reboot. What began as a barely passable film series was turning into a manufactured source of frustrating special effects and tedious performances. But Fox wasn’t done yet, because in 2017 they released the largest catastrophic failure in Apes history.
War for the Planet of the Apes is the third, and hopefully final, Apes film released in this film series. In this latest debacle we find that a war wages between man and the apes, still led by Caesar and still dreadfully “portrayed” by Andy Serkis. Though to call this a portrayal is generous. All Serkis does is walk around in ill-fitting spandex and squawk “ooh-oohs” and “ahh-ahhs.” This can be said for all of the ape “performances” throughout the film. Including newcomer Bad Ape as “played by” Steve Zahn. Who even is that guy?
The apes aren’t the only sour spot in this deplorable mess. The human characters are just as shallow. Take Woody Harrelson’s The Colonel whose backstory and motivation are so thin they’re practically non-existent. The Colonel has some unexplained and unimportant issues with the apes, Caesar in particular. He’s willing to do whatever it takes to destroy the ape community and I don’t blame him. This film forsakes story and structure so the audience can gawk at all the different types of monkeys they see.
Remember the days when a trilogy concluded with satisfying and climatic glory? Well you can forget all that as War chooses to end it’s wretched series not with a bang, but with a mediocre fizzle. Much like a can of Mountain Dew Voltage that’s long lost its carbonation. The creators were only innovative enough to change one word in each additional film; what else could have been expected of it’s story direction. Rise to Dawn to War (I think we can all agree that of to for cannot count) doesn’t qualify as visionary, it reeks of laziness.
Hats off to Fox for daring to bring back Matt Reeves as director. After the commercial and critical failure of Dawn, with Reeves at the helm, it was a shock to learn that Reeves would return for the next film. Rupert Wyatt was wise enough to abandon ship after bungling Rise. Perhaps Fox was unable to procure a more seasoned and talented director to save the doomed series. Or, more likely, Reeves christened himself Captain and chose to sink with this ship.
Though there is one bright spot among all this darkness. We’re probably not going to get another one. Talking apes! What’s to love? Nothing.