Eppler: New "Apes" movies may be among the strongest trilogies e

Eppler: New "Apes" movies may be among the strongest trilogies ever

Most improbably, these new "Planet of the Apes" movies - "Rise," "Dawn" and now "War" -  are now among the strongest movie trilogies start to finish ever - telling a complete, epic story with moral questioning and political subtext. That's a thing to be celebrated in a time where nihilistic noise is the norm - yea, that's you, "Transformers."

We're a long way from the campy fun of the original almost 50 years ago with Charlton Heston, and whatever it was Tim Burton did in the late 90s. This new "Apes" trilogy fashioned memorable characters paired with groundbreaking effects-driven filmmaking, told stories with high stakes and delved into hyper-political themes. Oh, and they were a lotta fun, to watch, too.

"War for the Planet of the Apes" plays like a western mixed with a POW movie with the leader of the apes, Caesar, played again in motion capture performance by Andy Serkis, setting out to take revenge on a brutal colonel played by a fantastically maniacal Woody Harrelson, who led an attack on the ape herd.

It's an often dark, bleak and brutal film, but director Matt Reeves - who co-wrote the screenplay - punctuates the piece with apes displaying the best aspects of humanity. There's also the inclusion of a new character - a sad clown called "Bad Ape" played by Steve Zahn, that narrowly manages to avoid being a nuisance and provides needed laughs.

It's an often gorgeous picture to watch with the ape animation appearing natural and expressive in closeups. With these three movies, Serkis has delivered one of the most remarkable performances in recent history as Caesar by having to work through computers. Yes, it deserves Oscar consideration. 

"War for the Planet of the Apes" has a few plot conveniences late that keep me from calling it perfect, but it's still a fantastic finish to a surprisingly great series. 

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