War for the Planet of the Apes – Review

And so we come to the end of another movie marathon. Since I saw this one in the cinema I ended up being amused when among the ads that play before the trailers were two of those army jobs ads before a movie that has soldiers as the villains.

This series is going to be my go to argument when I defend reboots now because all three films have been fantastic and are the best films in the entire franchise. This time the focus is entirely on the apes with the humans only appearing when the apes encounter them, this only serves to strengthen the things that made the ape scenes in the previous two films so great.

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An example of this is the sign language now being the main form of dialogue in the film, this time being subtitled. It even applies to the human ally to the apes who is mute and rarely even signs. I also like how they named her Nova as a nod to the original. As for the human villains much like how Kobo was the best ape antagonist in the franchise Woody Harrelson’s character is the same for the human antagonists, I especially like how we never actually learn his name and only know him as the colonel.

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I’ve saved talking about Caesar for this review because these films are his story and seeing them all back to back really shows how much this character has grown of the course of the series. I liked Caesar in the old films but this Caesar is a much better character. Even the way he communicates develops between each film with him barely saying a word in the first film, only speaking when he needs to in the second and now he defaults to speaking even in conversation with other apes who are signing.

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And so with the marathon over here’s my ranking of the franchise

War for the Planet of the Apes > Rise of the Planet of the Apes > Dawn of the Planet of the Apes > Planet of the Apes (1968) > Escape from the Planet of the Apes > Conquest of the Planet of the Apes > Planet of the Apes (2001) > Battle for the Planet of the Apes > Beneath the Planet of the Apes

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – Review

While this film does have parallels to Battle for the Planet of the Apes it’s not as much of a counterpart of it in the way Rise of the Planet of the Apes is to Conquest of the Planet of the Apes. This is more of an inbetween two major events movie focusing less on the big battles and more on the events that lead to them and the aftermath of the previous film.

With that in mind while it’s not as good as the previous film it’s still one of the stronger films in the franchise. I’m especially impressed that a majority of the ape dialogue is in sign language, they could have very easily done like Battle for the Planet of the Apes and just had all the apes speaking perfect English but instead their default is sign language only speaking when they need to.

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While there are human antagonists the main villain is Kobo, the scarred bonobo from the previous film. While yes his design just screams evil it also justifies his strong hatred for humans as in one scene he points to each scar saying “human”. He is comparable to Aldo in Battle for the Planet of the Apes but without the whole “gorillas are bad” thing. He’s without a doubt the best ape antagonist this series has had.

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And with that I’m all caught up ready to see the new film. I’ve gone from being interested in seeing an iconic film series to being excited to see what happens next.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes – Review

In my Conquest of the Planet of the Apes review I said I’d probably have more to talk about it when I had something to compare it to. That something as it turns out is to say that Rise is better than Conquest in every way.

In fact it’s the best film in the franchise so far. The human characters are more complex than they’ve ever been with even James Franco’s sympathetic human character having flaws that contribute to pushing Caesar away. I also think the apes rebelling due to the ways they’re actually treated in modern society is a more powerful message than “if all dogs and cats die out we’ll start treating apes like slaves”.

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Once again the already impressive effects of the previous movies are surpassed. It’s films like this that are why I’ll never understand people who complain about CGI in movies. The effects in this film are incredible with the apes looking the most realistic they’ve ever been making it even more impressive seeing apes from different parts of the world side by side. It’s not just the CGI though, the motion capture performances live up to the hype.

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Two more films to go and from what I’m aware both have been pretty well received.

Planet of the Apes (2001) – Review

So this film isn’t very popular, most times I’ve heard it get mentioned it’s either to say it sucks or to defend it from the common opinion of not liking it.

Personally, I think it’s a decent remake. It does its own thing with the set up rather than just be the original and that made it more enjoyable to watch than if it was just the original again but with updated effects.

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And said effects are very impressive. The original films’ makeup was great for its time but the differences between the ape species were pretty minor with the gorillas looking nothing like gorillas. In this film the physical features of each ape species is captured perfectly… for the male apes. The females on the other hand look like humans with ape faces.

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The film isn’t without its faults though and the biggest has to be that the human lead is boring and generic, which seems to be a common role for Mark Wahlberg. He’s even part of a weird love triangle between a human and and ape but both pairings not only feel forced but non existent most of the time.

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Honestly though the appeal of these movies has never been the humans so these problems don’t effect my enjoyment of the film that much. Now it’s time for the main event of this marathon, the reboot series…

Battle for the Planet of the Apes – Review

And so the original series comes to a close. While I’ve had very little to say in these reviews I’ve enjoyed finally getting to see this iconic series.

It’s a fitting end to the series and even manages to bring in the mutants from the second film (minus the psychic powers) for the titular battle bringing everything full circle. That said the film is just ok.

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I think the problem with the film is in the name, it’s just one battle for the planet of the apes and it happens at the end of the film. The rest of the film is a slow build up to that battle which does contain some decent scenes with Caesar and his group but then it cuts back to the gorillas or the mutants talking about the battle they’re going to have.

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While the film is alright I have a feeling the newer films do more with this concept. But before we get to them there’s a Tim Burton film I need to watch.

Conquest of the Planet of the Apes – Review

And so we get to the part of the series that inspired the recent reboot films.

It’s not as good as the first and third films but it’s still a decent origin story. It’s also going to be interesting when I get to Rise of the Planet of the apes to compare the two films.

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The strength of the film is Roddy McDowall’s performance as Caesar. The performance is very different from his role as Cornelius in the previous films and it’s nice to have at least one actor from the first film sticking around.

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I don’t have much to say about this film right now but I expect that will change when I have something to compare it to. One more film from the original series left now.

Escape from the Planet of the Apes – Review

Fortunately my assumption about this film was wrong and instead of having yet another human crash land on the planet of the apes we have the apes crash landing on the planet of the humans.

The role reversal is what makes this sequel work. It feels more true to the original while also being its own thing. There are noticeable plot holes like how the apes know much more details about their history that they wouldn’t have known about in the first film but they don’t take away from the film’s strengths.

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The chimpanzees from the first film are the stars this time which was the best move because they were always the most likable characters. I don’t think the film would have worked nearly as well with a random ape that wasn’t from the other movies.

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This appears to be the end of the cast of the original film but we’ve still got two movies to go before the remake and the reboot series.