There was a flurry of new movie trailers released last week, and this one almost slipped through the cracks! Here’s the Psycho Drive-In All-Stars with their reactions to the new trailer for War for the Planet of the Apes! Three summers ago Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, for my money, was the finest piece of Hollywood filmmaking that year. It was elegant, polished, had beautifully choreographed set-pieces and a script that had deep empathy for all characters involved. Now, as the summer of 2017 approaches we have the third, and presumably final film in this trilogy, War for the Planet of the Apes. This is a franchise that has always remained topical and this final film in the franchise looks to be just that, especially when Woody Harrelson’s character states, “There are times that it is necessary to abandon our humanity to save humanity.” The film seems to continue the muted color palate that Dawn of the Planet of the Apes effectively used to portray both the ruins of San Francisco and the Muir Woods. Matt Reeves took the bare bones story of the serviceable Rise of the Planet of the Apes and turned it into a rousing story of loyalty and betrayal. Caesar looks to retain his same “heavy lies the crown” persona here, however, in this film he seems to have a colony of apes and not merely a small settlement. The film looks stunning. There is a reason that Warner Brothers put Matt Reeves at the helm of the new Batman film. He is a master of tone and shoots action so that it is both chaotic and unnerving while simultaneously being streamlined and coherent. I don’t want to pontificate, but Woody Harrelson seems to be doing the kind of work that could score him an Academy Award nomination. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes should have been heralded with a Best Picture nomination a few years ago and it would be really nice to see this film have the kind of clout and caliber it takes to get that kind of recognition. I’m trying to temper my excitement. Besides Paul Thomas Anderson’s film at the end of the year, this may be my most anticipated film of the year. The trailer seems to suggest bold blockbuster filmmaking that will be intellectually and viscerally stimulating. Hurry up July. — Peterson Hill Those damned dirty apes are at it again. One of my biggest thrills as a kid was the weekend every summer where a local channel did a Planet of the Apes marathon, running through the entire original film series in order. Of these, my favorites were always Conquest of the Planet of the Apes and Battle for the Planet of the Apes. I’m big on backstory and history and seeing the way the world shifted, how the dominant humans were usurped by their own altered creations spoke to me. There was a time in our evolution when we shared the world with several other species of apes following along a similar evolutionary trajectory. Now, as the pinnacle of that evolution, the only other species with even rudimentary signs of promise are Chimpanzees who some scientists argue have officially entered the Stone Age. The Planet of the Apes always forced us to look at our own species with a pretty harsh eye, especially in our ecological stewardship and our treatment of other beings. To see a servile species groomed to be both pet and slave rise up and topple our dominance, to drive us backward until our entire species was little more than a primitive, subhuman collective was possibly one of the most terrifying notions I’d ever encountered. Let me try to sum that up for you: I’m a big Planet of the Apes fan. The new series of movies (Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) takes a lot of what I adored about the original franchise and brings it to life in a more modern way. Instead of a time-traveling duo of Chimpanzee lovers (that’s Chimps in love, not loving on Chimps) paradoxically giving birth to the talking ape messiah Caesar, he is instead created in a laboratory experiment while testing drugs intended to cure Alzheimer’s Disease which makes it all the more tragic as things rapidly descend into chaos. By the end of Dawn, we have Caesar and his army of genetically altered and rapidly breeding apes battling for their own survival against a disparate humanity decimated by “Simian Flu,” a disease that has crippled civilization and been scapegoated on the backs of our newly sentient heroes. The trailer for War for the Planet of the Apes returns with Caesar and his people still battling against an even more ruthless and genocidal humanity hell-bent on the total annihilation of their sapient cousins. The world is becoming a much colder place, either due to an unusually strong winter or the effects of an ongoing global war and no one, man or ape, is doing well. Mankind is mobilizing for what feels like a desperate, borderline suicidal strike against the apes while Caesar and his people are struggling to maintain the peace and safety of their home against invaders. While Woody Harrelson’s Colonel and his army are busy plotting their own final assault, other bands of humans are helping Caesar to strategize, train, and prepare. For fans of the original franchise, one of the most chilling moments from the trailer is seeing a gorilla being shown by a man with a bushy red beard how to man and operate a machine gun placement. The look of knowing, almost of satisfaction on the gorilla’s face is haunting given his kind’s predilection to violence in the first franchise. The darker tone and sense of mad desperation we see in the brief snippets of film are telling. This is the moment, the time and the place where, like his namesake, Caesar will forever etch himself into the annals of history. And his name will be written in human blood. — Dan Lee I grew up with The Planet of the Apes movies. The first film is a formative experience in my film – and political – education (and it was released the year I was born, so I have even more emotional attachments to it), and every single entry in the original series has something amazing going for it both conceptually and thematically (although to be honest, Battle is the weakest of the series and doesn’t have a whole lot going on to redeem it). I still can’t listen to Roddy McDowell giving that speech at the end of Conquest without getting fired up and pissed off that the studio made them soften the violent political impact. And Escape from the Planet of the Apes is a brilliant piece of social satire with a heartbreakingly tragic ending. Even the animated Return to the Planet of the Apes is brilliant in its own way. I have wanted to like each of these new Planet of the Apes movies. Hell, I even tried to enjoy the fecal nonsense that Tim Burton flung against the screen before this. And god damn if the trailers aren’t always cut to perfection. But twice now, I’ve looked at gorgeous trailers and then when I put my ass in the seat, I was horribly disappointed. Rise was garbage from start to finish. Don’t even try to sell me on that one. Nice special effects are nice special effects, but they have to be in service to a story, and Rise had a garbage fire for a story. Dawn was better. Well, specifically, Dawn was better when there were no human characters on screen. That opening twenty minutes or so of life in the ape community with no spoken dialogue was glorious. I was in love with that film. Then the “story” started with the introduction of the bland and uninterestingly clichéd human characters and it quickly spiraled into bigger and louder nonsense that had me cursing the wasting of my money on the ticket. Seriously, that whole end sequence was just atrocious. And Gary Oldman was awful. Bad plotting, bad script, bad acting. But the special effects were great. And if Dawn had spent more time in the ape community I might have loved it. But ultimately it was another garbage fire. With War, we have yet another beautifully cut trailer. As with Dawn, the cinematography looks amazing and the special effects are, once again, top notch. This could easily be a case of “third time’s a charm,” but I’m afraid it’s going to be more like “fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me; fool me three times, what kind of a fucking idiot am I?” Once again, we have traitorous apes stabbing Caesar in the back, although this time it looks like we’ll get a heaping helping of Mel Gibson-style persecution/torture of our hero before what we all know is going to happen, happens. Woody Harrelson is chewing scenery like he’s starving and the subtleties of Andy Serkis’ performance under a CG blanket are effortlessly more interesting. This one doesn’t look like it’s going to be a garbage fire, I’ll admit. But neither of the previous films did either. War for the Planet of the Apes definitely goes into the “wait until it’s on Netflix” column for me. — Paul Brian McCoy Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.