Summer

War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)

After the 2011 reboot, War for the Planet of the Apes is the third instalment and the now-blossoming franchise is showcasing some of the finest effects in modern cinema today with Andy Serkis portraying Caesar throughout.

With Matt Reeves returning from Dawn of the Planet of the Apes I was a tiny bit apprehensive, as the two-rebooted Planet of the Apes films, Matt Reeves’ was the weaker. Lo and behold, I am a sucker for a good action flick though.

Reeves’ does briefly catch up the viewer with a few choice sentences, reciting Rise, Dawn and War, whilst the mentioned battle-hardened veterans weave through the forest. Having war in the title of the film, I was anticipating some all-out action sequences, and this is what happens immediately. The soldiers that adorn the ‘monkey killer’ helmet quickly light up an outpost, but not before the apes show up and take out the army.

As Caesar has taken on the leader role on this, his status is still key as he walks amongst the apes and they all part almost as though he is a God. And this is where the advanced technology really comes into it’s own as Andy Serkis’ portrayal of Caesar is brilliant.

And therein lies one of the greatest things about War for the Planet of the Apes is that the apes take the bulk of the emotion on show within this film. And it is tied in with some beautiful shots, as Lake and Blue Eyes reunite after a long time as the waterfall cascades down behind them.

Personally I think this device was really effective by Reeves’ as it shows the evolution of the apes over the humans. The first encounter between the apes and the humans, Caesar extends a compassionate olive branch in the hope of long-lasting peace, whereas Woody Harrelson’s Colonel is a very two-dimensional as a character. I don’t think that’s necessarily Woody Harrelson’s fault, more a device used by Matt Reeves.

It is now common that blockbusters are starting to use comic effect for one or two of their characters in their films and War for the Planet of the Apes fell victim to this trope. Unfortunately for me, it didn’t work. That was clear emotion elicited by the new ‘bad ape’, but his comic trope kept pulling me out of the picture.

Aside from that, there was very little that caused grief with this film. I was a massive fan of the compassion and humanity that the Apes showed and that being directly contrasted by the humans inability to elicit any emotion. Their ability to communicate and come together for the sake of their race was key, whilst the humans carried on bringing about destruction of their own race.

Although for saying the title of the film is War for the Planet of the Apes. There isn’t a great deal of war sequences within. There is that glorious opening sequences, and the climatic battle, but other than that it seems as though the war is held within Caesar. Especially as he is tipped over the edge in the battle for apekind against humankind, when the Colonel embarks on some pretty shady business with Caesar’s family.

Considering Matt Reeves’ first attempt at the Apes franchise was less-than-memorable, War for the Planet of the Apes is considerably better. Probably better than the first rebooted film, but this will be significantly helped by the portrayal of the apes thanks to the advancements in technology, but also Andy Serkis’ performance. His ability to channel the humanity and compassion from the start and then seeing the hatred completely take over is astounding.

In a summer of blockbuster films, War for the Planets of the Apes is probably in amongst the top for the enjoyment taken out of the action sequences, but also for having that narrative structure to allow for the film to be carried over it’s two hour plus runtime. Maybe with some fine editing and the removal of the comic relief the film maybe could’ve been the best film out of the summer for me, but alas, this has not happened. For now, it’ll be interesting to see whats next in stall for the Apes franchise.

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The Kings Of Summer (2013)

I found this film to be very under the radar in terms of promotion in the UK. Only due to tweets I found out about Kings Of Summer, and when I found it to appear on LoveFilm, I was very pleased. 95 minutes later, I was still feeling very pleased about being able to watch this.

The film opens up on a trio of boys banging sticks on a pipe with one of them dancing on the pipe at the same time, we then see Joe (Nick Robinson) a month earlier being yelled at by his father for being in the shower for 55 minutes. This is whilst he is day dreaming about an unknown girl. The hatred between the two is immediately clear. This is at the time when the young adult is on the verge of breaking up for his summer vacation, when he bumps into this unknown girl from before, that goes by the name of Kelly (Erin Moriarty) and she subsequently invites him to a party that night.

As the film continues the formalities, next introduced is Patrick (Gabriel Basso) who is currently stuck in his house due to a broken ankle or similar injury. It is clear Patrick holds the same disdain for his parents as Joe holds for his father, which is further shown when game night is happening and Patrick is having dinner with his parents. Joe eventually does go to the party with Patrick (regardless of his foot condition) whereby an old man breaks up the party firing a gun. This is also when we meet Biaggio (Moises Arias), a rather odd boy who you grow accustomed to.

They enter a clearing where Joe feels a connection with the land. Due to a conversation that goes sour Joe takes Patrick into the clearing and suggests the idea of building a house. Patrick, at first hates the idea but then grows accustomed to it after his parents continue to annoy him. From this point onwards, the bulk of the film takes place as the trio begin construction of this house in the forest.As the rest of the film unfolds, we see happier forms of Joe and Patrick without the rule of their parents. Biaggio, of course being there to provide the comedy within the film with his actions and comments, but largely is a brilliant character.

“You’re right, it’s a classic kidnapping. They took our children and the canned goods and pasta.”

After the trio disappear, their parents become worried about the fact they have ran away and they continually show their efforts to track them, such as finding their cellphones and Frank having an argument with a takeaway man. Joe after missing a woman’s touch invites Kelly to the site of the house. This proves fatal as the boys argue and Kelly takes a liking to Patrick this comes between the boys and eventually causes Joe to cast everyone out. Ironically, this occurs during a game of monopoly, which pretty much shadows the family game night earlier in the film.

The-Kings-of-Summer

Ultimately, this is a brilliant coming-of-age film perfect for nostalgic boys. as I personally found the personal elements in there. But constructed with some beautiful shots of the summer months and the comedic value of Frank’s relationships with his family members and his sarcasm toward other people. It’s all nicely fitted into the 95 minute run time and doesn’t seem too extravagant which makes it a very enjoyable, easy watch.

This film largely is enjoyable due to the nostalgia factor, as it’s always crept into conversation of living off the land and building a house in the middle of the woods. But not only this, the long hot summer days of idling about with friends smashing sticks around trees and all the things that have happened to them too. In terms of the coming-of-age film, it’s great, but not the best. The initial story does wear thin with the parents, especially Frank. But the ending, the ending I liked, it’s true to what would happen amongst friends as young as they are.

3.5/5