“Planet of the Apes” wins the war

By Aaron Reynolds

The Surveyor

Yes, there have been an overwhelming number of remakes that have dominated the headliners of summer blockbusters over the past several years, and no, they have not always lived up to their potential.

The summer of 2017, however, appears to be a bit different. First, “Wonder Woman” annihilated all notions that big-budget movies must be directed by and star men with a thought-provoking, entertaining superhero epic. Then, “Spider-Man: Homecoming” came around and offered arguably the best Spidey in nine predominantly stellar releases. The trend continues with “War for the Planet of the Apes,” a film that is as beautiful inside as it is out.

Yet before I dive too deeply into all the subtle and not so subtle spiritual messages behind the new masterpiece, let’s rewind back to the original 1960s “Planet of the Apes,” starring Charlton Heston, and a series that warranted absolutely no flirtation with a remake to begin with.

The original “Planet of the Apes” was a classic, and any new reboot would surely butcher the icon like so many remakes have done in recent memory. Instead, the 2011 James Franco-led “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” delivered a worthy prequel yet made a difficult decision to ditch its affable star for the two most recent follow-ups.

The reboot of “Planet of the Apes” never felt squeezed just for the sake of money as the new series has, and continues to capitalize on breathtaking visual effects and choreography while staying true to the complex, incredibly brilliant concept of the original ‘60s sci-fi storyline.

In the third chapter of the blockbuster, audiences are quickly introduced to a deadly conflict between apes and humans (which has already been covered in the trailer); however it’s not the stylized bloodbath that keeps viewers engaged, but an incredibly deep narrative with allusions to the Bible, slavery and the civil-rights movement, to name a few.

Thus, “War for the Planet of the Apes” is as much a moral conflict as it is an actual war. Sure, there are plenty of jaw-dropping fight scenes to lavish over, though it is far from an epic designed to arouse your senses yet numb the brain. Like “Wonder Woman,” the creative teams behind these two films do not undermine your intelligence simply by pitting “good vs. evil.” It’s not that simple, and there are plenty of ethical questions to be raised when one brand of people (or apes) become in conflict with another.

It is the very reason I will go on a limb and say “War for the Planet of the Apes” is not only the best movie released thus far this summer, but will also be the best movie of the entire summer. Andy Serkis is once again amazing portraying Caesar, Woody Harrelson is the perfect antagonist as the colonel, and everything else in-between is top notch.

 

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