War for the Planet of the Apes

War for the Planet of the Apes ★½

The thinking-man aspirations of this franchise continue to run in circles, this time adding a grimace and slowing to a trudge as a substitute for new ideas. This kind of escalating tonal extremity disguised as maturing sensibility makes me yearn for stupidly conceptual prequels (aka please make a heist movie about apes stealing the Statue of Liberty). Even within its own rebooted continuity, there's nothing here. Everything that made Caesar interesting -- his ahead-of-the-curve brain function, discovery of family, and the responsibility of setting precedents that comes with leadership -- is essentially wiped aside to make way for a cross to nail him to. Messiah via prison camp is already a pretty inflexible set-up, but Reeves makes things worse by mixing in some end of an era gravitas (humanity will undoubtedly go out without a fraction of this bombast). I mean, are you purposefully trying to make Alien 3, a movie with merits born from a sloppy, inadvertent dissonance? Even the break-out fails to deliver on the basic satisfaction of watching a strategy be planned and executed, and it's rendered pointless by the fireworks tacked on after. Toss in Harrelson mistaking a Vince Vaughn role for some quasi-Brando shtick and there's nowhere to turn for a distraction. Seriously, what is there to get here that isn't in the original? File this under studio film that exists to get the A.O. Scott rave -- reactionary gloom passed off as thoughtful storytelling (see also: Sausage Party).

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