Quick Hit: Filled with emotional beats throughout, the special effects still raise this film to be the best in the series.
The film opens with some text crawl, which is normally a pet peeve of mine (outside of the Star Wars series). But after that, you’re treated to a pretty delightful film. The basic plot is this – most of humanity has died off, but they are struggling to survive in a world where our creature comforts have been destroyed. The apes, however, who escaped into the forest in the last film, are now thriving. They’ve established a whole society, complete with education and a series of commandments, the greatest of which is “Ape Not Kill Ape”.
Inevitably, we know these two factions of society are going to clash eventually. And, after a breathtaking opening scene that involves the apes hunting in the forest, we get exactly that. Koba (Toby Kebbell), the ape with the medical testing scars from the previous film, wants Caesar to distrust the humans, which is perfectly reasonable. Caesar, who remembers what humanity can be at its best, decides to trust the humans, leading to a relationship wherein the apes help the humans get a hydroelectric dam back running. This plot set-up is really well done, and the whole film is really well thought out. There were no points where I was pointing out huge plot holes.
Andy Serkis continues to be the best part of the series. His Caesar is now older and more menacing physically, but he allows all the subtle body language of that of a chimpanzee who is becoming more and more human to come through. Weta’s digital effects continue to astound, because the line is so unclear between the effects and the man. There are some scenes where Caesar needs to show true emotion, and it’s really effective. Kebbell also gets some really good acting in, particularly in a chilling scene that involves normal chimp behaviors shifting back and forth with his now “normal” behavior. Kebbell went to continue to follow in Serkis’s steps by playing Kong in Skull Island.
Matt Reeves (Cloverfield and Let Me In) brings a keen eye for action. The finale to Rise was really good – but here it’s better in ways you weren’t even expecting. Despite featuring apes on horses, apes toting guns and spears, and apes increasingly gaining the ability to speak – which is handled really, really well by the way by both Kebbell and Serkis – it never comes across as unbelievable. The care that is handled in these scenes, and in some scenes featuring emotional impact, like Maurice and young Kodi-Smit Mcphee reading together, or Keri Russell and Caesar’s wife Cornelia (Judy Greer!!) are all handled with delicacy and perfect light handling.
I think this is the best of the series, but we still have one more to go. Come back soon for the finale to this series, along with the finale to trilogy month, War For the Planet of the Apes. For today’s film, the rating is, of course, an “A+”.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"