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One Movie Punch

Nov 28, 2018

Hi everyone!

Welcome back to the podcast. This will be the first of two episodes today as we’re working to get caught up from the fire. I’ll be continuing my story from the wildfire evacuation in a minute, but if you haven’t heard the earlier segments, hit pause, then go back to my review for “Outlaw King” (Episode #314) for the first segment, then listen every episode after that for another installment. Let me know you’re listening by sharing this episode with #WelcomeBackOMP. 

Last segment, we had just returned home, unpacking and attempting to settle in, even as so much chaos was happening a short drive away. Malibu was burning, a stark reminder for some celebrities that mother nature doesn’t care about wealth, unless you were wealthy enough to hire private firefighters. Look it up. We mostly caught up on television that night before falling asleep, after showers and whatever leftovers we could throw together. We all slept in, and in the morning, with nothing to worry about with the podcast, I decided to make my family a huge breakfast, using up all the food about to expire. Got somewhat organized afterwards, and sat down to watch “Outlaw King” (Episode #314) before taking yet another nap. I was thankful that things were getting back to normal.

I was also thankful for everyone that reached out while the podcast was off the air. Folks like Alayeni Silvermist, on Twitter at @AlayeniEQ, who wished us safe passage during the evacuation. It was great to hear from you!

Today’s movie is “War for the Planet of the Apes” (2017), the 20thCentury Fox production directed by Matt Reeves and written for the screen in collaboration with Mark Bomback, based on characters created by Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver. The franchise is based on the classic novel “The Planet of the Apes” by Pierre Boulle. The film follows Caesar (Andy Serkis), having escaped captivity and defended his fellow apes from humans, finds their community under attack by a ruthless, rogue colonel (Woody Harrelson), killing his wife and eldest son. Now Caesar must ensure his community escapes to a new land, far from humans, while also seeking revenge against the Colonel. 

Spoilers ahead. 

One of my favorite franchises growing up was The Planet of the Apes. I remember seeing parts of all five films on syndicated television growing up, and when I got my first job and the right mail-order catalog, I was able to get the first five movies as a VHS boxed set. VHS is a tape-based format that you had to physically rewind to watch again. The horror, right? As a kid, though, that was awesome, and I fell in love with the franchise. I still haven’t seen the television show, which is on my bucket list, but I do remember reading the book just before being disappointed by Tim Burton’s remake, and when this prequel trilogy came out, I was so hesitant that I didn’t even see the first film, and only saw the second film for the first time at a Benson Interruption with Zach Galifianakis and other comedians shredding it before my eyes. Not the best way to be introduced to this franchise. But when I rewatched the second film with my spouse later, I started to notice just how amazing the special effects and costumes were, and when I saw this installment, the third and hopefully not final, I knew they were finally doing the franchise justice, and on a scale they couldn’t manage for this story in the original franchise working on much smaller budgets.

“War for the Planet of the Apes” brings a close to the reimagining of the franchise storyline, eschewing a bunch of time travel logistics for the genetic engineering solution which leads to apes becoming more intelligent, and the flu killing off most of the human population. “Rise” is quickly followed by “Dawn”, which shows two populations trying to become equal, but the real genius of this reboot is reimagining the state of humans in the future, who aren’t more primitive because of experimentation, but are made more primitive by the simian flu as it mutates. Now humans have not only caused their own extinction, but also their own evolution into a more docile, lower-order thinking animal, akin to how we view primates today. This film is about race relations, about engineering our own obsolescence, about animal rights and sentience, and about the distraction of war in the face of natural disasters, and especially biological ones.

Matt Reeves kills it as director and co-writer, stretching this final story over 140 minutes, with the right pacing for character development, incredible action scenes, thought-provoking and thematically important scenes, and a fitting end to Caesar’s journey, even if it felt rushed. My only concern with the script is not enough hope for another trilogy, although all the elements have been peppered throughout this trilogy. And my only concern with the cast was Bad Ape (Steve Zahn), who while providing some much needed comic relief, also could be distracting and off tone with the rest of the scenes, even if I think the confirmation of simian evolution outside the initial region being a wonderful key to unlocking this franchise even further. Imagine two ape communities needing to go to war. Or having the astronauts who launched in the first reboot film return to see what has happened. So many opportunities!

“War for the Planet of the Apes” (2017) is a fitting end to the reboot prequel trilogy, reimagining the cause for the rise of the intelligent apes, and the further effects on the world no longer for humans. This is not a simple genre film, but an epic story that treats the source material with incredible respect, and breathes new life into the franchise. Anyone who doesn’t hate science fiction would be well served to watch all three films, and for those of you who really dig it, seek out the original properties, and imagine that was all you had. 

Rotten Tomatoes: 93% (CERTIFIED FRESH)

Metacritic: 82 (MUST SEE)

One Movie Punch: 9.4/10

“War for the Planet of the Apes” (2017) is rated PG-13 and is currently streaming on HBO.