War for the Planet of the Apes casts its villain, but is the franchise heading in the wrong direction?

Oh, hey Woody.

Mothalovin’ Woody Harrelson.

That’s right, he’s set to be the villain in War for the Planet of the Apes, which is great news for literally anyone who likes movies. So, great, there’s a solid villain, we know the apes are great and the direction should be great. In fact, EVERYTHING should be great as long as it sticks to the believable and gritty tone of the last two installments. Not only did I love the last two films, but I also think Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, specifically, is one of the best blockbuster action flicks of the past decade. It was so incredibly well done on a variety of levels that I saw it multiple times in the theater – and I’m not one to go to the theater more than once, so that’s really saying something. I mean really, though, how good was that movie? Every utterance of dialogue from the apes is perfection and leaves me wanting more from them. The humans are good too, but the apes just steal the show. It’s quite possibly the best CGI I’ve seen in a movie, especially with how heavily the film relies on that as a means of visual representation. And then the mo-cap performances, by Andy Serkis (Caesar) and Toby Kebbell (Koba), were just astounding. I mean DEAR GOD I thought Caesar was a captivating character and then Koba comes in and dominates the screen. Forgive me, Caesar. I will praise this film until the end of time.

Sadly, I must now address my slight concerns for the next film. While these concerns are not terribly significant, they’re still in the back of my mind. They begin with the natural progression of the films thus far…given the slowly paced Rise, then the slightly more upbeat Dawn, and considering that Dawn ended with basically a lead-in to a war plotting the apes against the military, one can only assume that War of the Planet of the Apes will be exactly as its title suggests: A full-blown-apes-versus-humans-Koba-crazy-ass-lookin-apes-with-machines-guns-against-tanks-WAR.

Didn’t catch that? I’ll say it again: There’s gonna be a war. Which, of course, means there’s going to be far more action and a lot less down time. I’m not saying that it’s going to be bad, I’m just saying, under poor direction, it could go the route of every other mainstream blockbuster action movie and let hollow action (not just any action, hollow action) fill the voids of the film and leave us with very little substantial material. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes had amazing action sequences. The scene where the camera was affixed to the tank for a long oner shot was one of the coolest and most uniquely directed action scenes I have watched in a really long time. While I loved the action sequences, and it’s always fun seeing the apes go ballistic, I think the most powerful moments were the interactions between the humans and the apes as well as those of the apes interacting with themselves. Maybe it was because of the great dialogue, perfect use of score, precisely framed shots, brilliant direction or spot-on acting, but I still think that if there’s less of those moments in the next parts of the series, the franchise could suffer.

This is how I look at my fiance when I want to play PS4 and she’s been watching Gilmore Girls for the past three and a half hours.

It’s a good sign that they’re sticking with Matt Reeves to direct and assist with writing, along with some other returning writers from the last film, but you never know when the studio bigwigs will step in and want to shove their nose into something and ruin what could’ve been a great movie. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m scared that there could actually be a chance of this one being worse than Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, mainly because of the high bar already set and the direction it could take with the larger-stakes war at hand. Obviously, I’m crossing my fingers for another improvement on the series. Rise of the Planet of the Apes was greatly improved upon in almost every facet by Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, but the next movie has some pretty big expectations to exceed, given all that was accomplished in the second installment.

What do you guys think about Woody Harrelson being cast as the villain? Do you think War of the Planet of the Apes is in danger of heading toward the over-used formula of most modern action movies? Let’s start a discussion in the comments!

Author: Austin Adams @IamAustinAdams

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