Y’all. We’re not going to be the first to say it, and we certainly won’t be the last: These apes are really, really lifelike. Like, we kind of forgot there were human actors under there somewhere! It seems that War for the Planet of the Apes, which is once again helmed by Matt Reeves (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) is shaping up to be one of that rare trifecta-triumphs of box office success, critical acclaim, and technical wizardry.
As the visual effects industry advances along with this franchise (now in its third and arguably best iteration), the anthropomorphization (a fancy word for projecting human traits onto anything not-human) of the genetically enhanced apes is getting more and more nuanced. Anyone who cares to remember the original series of films — kicked off by 1974’s Planet of the Apes, starring professional salty grandpa Charlton Heston — remember the stiff costumes and even stiffer effect of Dr. Zaius, Cornelius, and the rest. This ability to connect more and more deeply with the non-human characters of the franchise is crucial.
The timeline of this reboot is also crucial because while the original films (and Tim Burton’s 2001 remake) pick up in a time after humans have already lost the struggle for dominance and become subjugated by their primate overlords, these films show how the tenuous bonds between apes and humans will shape the world to come, not just the world that already is. The original movie explores the human-ape dynamics as a pretty straightforward role reversal, but much like the emotive capabilities of the actors in their motion-capture suits, they’re getting more complex with each installment.
It’s been three years in the real world since Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, which set the human-simian war in motion, and two years in the world of the franchise. It’s safe to say that the world has changed a lot since 2014, and the themes of blowback, revolution, planetary dominance, and placement of allegiance, while enduring, are also extremely topical.
Other observations gleaned from the War for the Planet of the Apes trailer:
- Stunning battle scenes aside, this is definitely going to be one of those movies that you’ll want to see with others — it asks some very intense questions about, among other things, human nature, and you’ll want to build in some time to process afterward.
- Wouldn’t you know, it appears that in the war against the apes, there are female soldiers in combat roles! Oh, and also the “monkey killer” helmet is a nice nod to Full Metal Jacket. Yeah, we see that.
- What do we not see? Any female apes. Actually, no women at all besides the aforementioned soldiers and the little girl (Amiah Miller). We’re really looking forward to seeing Judy Greer reprise her role as Caesar’s wife, Cornelia!
- We don’t know about you, but we will literally never tire of watching primates ride horses.
Do you love previews? We sure do! Join us in the Trailer Park next Tuesday and every Tuesday for a new dissection of a different Coming Attraction (popcorn not included).
Does War for the Planet of the Apes have you contemplating the bond between humans and animals? Then don’t miss these films now streaming on Fandor.com:
See No Evil dir. Jos de Putter (2014)
The Zookeeper dir. Ralph Ziman (2001)
The Doctor and the Monkey dir. George Méliès (1900)