After eight movies, a short-lived television series, comic books, LP record dramas, and hundreds of Apes collectibles, one has to wonder how long this franchise can stay fresh and original with a storyline that runs familiar with those who viewed the originals. New characters are added to the mix… familiar names from the 1968 original appear as easter eggs throughout the film, substituting Fox’s recent reboot of the franchise with a different take for a modern audience. Basically, we’ve seen chapters three and four. This is the fifth and final chapter. Like the original movie series, you know where the story goes from here. Which might be the only flaw in the movie (and any other time travel series)… knowing who will obviously survive and the events that lead into the story we have known and loved.
The special effects from recent motion-capture technology for the apes deserves praise. Far too many movies look like cartoons these days. It seems difficult today for computer effects to impress me because of how good they have become. The apes themselves have evolved over the years and will probably continue along that path, courtesy of CGI. But the real standout in this entry is direction. Kudos to Matt Reeves who grabs us in the opening scene and manages to use the camera properly for story-telling and avoids the pitfalls of most modern filmmakers.
Woody Harrelson, in the role of The Colonel, a renegade from U.S. Military forces who correctly assumes that the disease that is killing off mankind, along with the growing ape colony, will mean the extinction of mankind, plays his part with perfection. “If we lose this war,” he explains, “this will be a planet of apes… and we will be your cattle.” Amiah Miller, as the mute human girl who is befriended by the apes, also plays her role with perfection. Acting through facial expressions rather than dialogue is a feat worthy of Oscar praise.
Fan boys across the country, along with reviews in trade columns, continue to reference this film as part of a recent trilogy. But mark my words, the easter eggs (should one want to revisit the original 1968 classic before venturing off to the theaters) will reveal what is too obvious to overlook: the stage is going to be set for a remake of chapter one. Box office already dictates that.