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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Jul 17, 2017

War For The Planet Of The Apes Movie Review: An Unnecessarily Long And Sluggish Two Hours With An Overdramatic Ape

WE’RE A great fan of the very first “Planet of the Apes” film based on the novel by Pierre Boulle. The big twist in its narrative remains for us to be one of the most shocking endings in the history of cinema. The apes then stand for the blacks or people of other races that whites fear will eventually be ruling America.

Now comes “War for the Planet of the Apes”, the third in the series after “Rise” and “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” in 2011 and 2014, respectively. Most of the things we’ve read about it are very positive, praising it to high heavens especially the proficiency of the CGI in the motion-capture techniques used for the apes, especially Andy Serkis as the lead ape, Caesar, that is truly very impressive in being so photo-realistic. The monkeys are all just rendered flawlessly, with even their eyes expressing emotions.

But the movie itself is not worthy of the hype. There are several dragging stretches giving it a high “boringga” factor. Caesar, who acts like Moses leading his folks into safety, has plenty of overdramatic crying scenes, looking like he wants to be nominated for the Oscar. This sci-fi movie presents another dystopian view of the future about the decline of human civilization. Humans are affected by the simian flu that render them helpless while the apes become more and more intelligent.
It presents a very depressing vision of the future, especially when you realize that the apes, from whose point of view the movie is told, are actually the leads and the humans are the villains. We think it would be very foolish of us viewers to agree with that premise, even if you’d say that the apes are just being used here as a symbol. A symbol of what? ISIS?

But the movie has another valid message: that revenge and violence beget exactly revenge and more violence. It’s a cycle from which man has never learned. Caesar here actually desires peace so he and the tribe of apes he leads are ensconced in a secret hideaway into the woods of Northen California for refuge. But the Colonel (Woody Harrelson), the head of a scalawag group of soldiers who want to kill the apes, tracks them down and kills his wife and son.

Caesar finds himself wallowing in hate and anger, emotions he wanted to set aside in his conflict with the traitor ape, Koba (Tobbey Kebbel), who sides with the villainous soldiers. It becomes his personal mission then to take revenge on the Colonel, a maniacal madman who stands in for Marlon Brando’s Colonel Kurtz in Coppola’s film. He captures all the apes and imprisons them in a concentration camp where they are forced to do hard labor. The monkeys are clearly the protagonists here eliciting audience sympathy while the humans are irredeemably evil, except for a mute orphan girl called Nova (Amiah Miller) who becomes an ally of the apes.

Many elements in the movie are really borrowed from a lot of other war movies, notably “The Great Escape” and even from the Roman slave flick “Spartacus”, by Director Matt Reeves, who also did “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”, the teen vampire flick “Let Me In” and the monster flick “Cloverfield”. The opening scenes, with the soldiers donning helmets adorned with tags like “Monkey Killer” and “Bedtime for Bonzo”, have allusions to the Vietnam War, as underlined in a graffiti on the wall saying “Ape-pocalypse Now”.

The movie has great production values, especially the design and the overall tone and atmosphere, which is very dark. But there are just a lot of meandering sequences in between the action scenes. The slow-moving scenes just go on and on and needlessly lengthen the film’s running time to more than two sluggish hours. A lot of trimming can honestly quicken the pacing of this cumbersome film. This U.S. summer is truly full of such unnecessarily long movies that simply bore, just like the latest “Transformers” and “Spiderman: Homecoming”, making it a truly “boringga” summer.