If you're looking for a way to escape the haze and the heat this weekend, I have a few tips:
- Tip #1 DO NOT go see Valerian. It's a trap. While it is visually lovely, and has some nice moments, overall it's a bit of a mess, with a completely unbelievable relationship and some awful dialogue thrown in on the side. (If you really want some Luc Besson in your life, stay at home and watch The Fifth Element instead),
- Tip #2 DO NOT see The Emoji Movie. I haven't seen this one, but if this tweet is anything to go by, I'm definitely better off. If your kids try to do the same, maybe convince them to stay home and watch Moana and Zootopia on Netflix instead.
- Tip #3 definitely go see War for the Planet of the Apes, it's a completely satisfying ending to the new Apes trilogy. (and manages to neatly tie itself to the 1968 original)
If you haven't seen Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) or Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) I would highly recommend that you see them, not just because you'll understand more of what's going on in War for the Planet of the Apes, but also because they're genuinely good films. I was a little reticent when Rise came out in 2011, I still had the bad taste of the 2001 Tim Burton/Mark Wahlberg version in my mouth, so much so that I didn't see it in theatres. After having several friends (with respectable movie taste) mentioned how good it was, I watched it when it came out on DVD (remember DVDs?) and was pleasantly surprised.
One of the best things that these new films has done is shift the focus from the humans to the apes. It lets the films hold up a mirror to human society, and what it shows isn't reflection we should ever be proud of. The apes, trying to build a peaceful society away from the humans, continue to be hunted and feared by the human population. After a devastating attack on their home, Caesar (the absolutely amazing Andy Serkis, who should win all the awards for his motion capture work) sends the apes off to find a new home, while he heads off to launch a one-ape assault on the Colonel (Woody Harrelson) and the soldiers who killed so many of his people. While there is actual conflict in the film, a lot of the 'war' is internal, as Caesar's animal and rational sides battle for dominance. Let me reiterate here how amazing Andy Serkis is as Caesar here. This is a completely CGI character, but the performance that Serkis gives through all that technology is nuanced and oftentimes heartbreaking. This is a character who came to prominence through conflict, and wanted nothing more than to live out the rest of his life in peace with his family - instead he's pulled into conflict all over again. All of that comes across perfectly in the performance, a better performance than you get in a LOT of films these days.
Do yourself a favour and see War for the Planet of the Apes, and then if you really feel like you 'have to' (you don't) go ahead and re-watch (or watch for the first time) Planet of the Apes starring Charlton Heston from 1968 and see just how far science fiction films have come from the late 1960s. It's a long way folks, a long LONG way.