<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Matt Reeves. Starring Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn, Terry Notary, Amiah Miller, Karin Konoval, Gabriel Chavarria, Judy Greer
Running time: 2 hours 20 minutes
Motion capture master Andy Serkis plays ape-leader Caesar who must now protect his family and people from the humans who haven’t succumbed to the deadly virus. It is a battle of survival but the apes are front and centre as our protagonists who must outwit and beat the evil humans. After watching this film you’ll wonder if the terms human and animal should not be reversed for the creatures they’re used to define.
The bitter Colonel (Woody Harrelson) is out to bring his own brand of justice to the world by wiping out the apes. But his plans don’t just end there. A mute girl (Amiah Miller) and a ‘bad ape’ from the zoo (Steve Zahn) join Caesar (Serkis) and his sidekicks Maurice (Karin Konoval), Rocket (Terry Notary), Luca (Michael Adamthwaite) on their way to foiling the ravaging army.
Who’d have thought that a cast of mostly CGI apes would be so engaging? For most of the film you see them struggle to survive, betray each other, fight for each other, show their humanity and love, even for the humans who are hell bent on their annihilation. Not once do you doubt the digital make-up thanks to the talents of the motion capture artists.
There are deeply profound and touching moments in the film. The innocence of the child in contrast to the brutishness of the apes is captured wonderfully. Pathos is in oodles and triumph in short supply. This is a serious film, no doubt. But the addition of Steve Zahn’s ‘bad ape’ gives the story a perfect touch of comic relief.
When human beings can’t even live in peace with each other, what hope is there of brokering a peace with apes who are poised to become more intelligent than the so-called ‘dominant’ species on the planet?
The Planet of the Apes original series of films didn’t really portray the simians in a good light, apart from a few who help the humans. A movie about how this turn of events takes place would be very interesting.