The Odysseys 2017: 2017 Retrospective

As we begin to get things underway for our annual awards event, The Odysseys, we’ve created a little something to remind you of just some of the films to grace our cinema screens this year, and also a possible look at films you’ll likely see mentioned in this year’s awards show.

Please feel free to share, leave feedback, and enjoy our 2017 retrospective!

More details about The Odysseys, including public nominations and upload date, will be available soon… 

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War for the Planet of the Apes

Year: 2017
Director: Matt Reeves
Starring: Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn, Karin Konoval, Terry Notary, Amiah Miller, Gabriel Chavarria

Written by Rhys Bowen Jones

The rebooted Planet of the Apes trilogy has had a strange existence. With ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’, it’s safe to say that most people were surprised at just how good the film was, better than it had any right to be, and becoming one of the surprise hits of 2011. Then along came ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ in 2014, a true blockbuster in every sense of the word by winning over audiences and critics alike thanks to its stunning visuals, compelling story, and wonderful performances. ‘Dawn’ stands tall as, for my money, one of the finest science-fiction films of the century. And yet, with ‘War’ upon us, the series as a whole isn’t yet mentioned alongside greats of cinema like ‘Back To The Future’, ‘Toy Story’, or ‘Lord of the Rings’. With Caesar’s return to the silver screen, Planet of the Apes has a series capper that manages to exceed and subvert our expectations and cement the series’ place as an all-time great trilogy.

After the events of ‘Dawn,’ in which Koba (Toby Kebbell) led a revolt against Caesar (Serkis) and a devastating battle against human survivors in San Francisco, the Ape colony are in hiding in an undisclosed location. We join the film in the middle of the action as a small troop of soldiers close in on an Ape camp for a surprise attack. After the attack, Caesar discovers the humans are capturing and using apes as “donkeys” in war to help the human cause. After the colony suffers a great loss, Caesar takes it upon himself to get revenge on the human in charge of this attack, The Colonel (Harrelson).

Upon reflection, it’s important for the prospective audience to know that ‘War’ may be a surprise to some. Given the title, it wouldn’t be foolish to expect Ape-on-Human anarchy throughout as the titular war rages on, but ‘War’ is, in fact, much more introspective and personal than I expected. Forgoing battle in favour of a grand character study of what it means to be human and what’s at stake for both humans and apes is a bold move for a summer blockbuster. That’s not to say there aren’t scenes of anarchy and battle and war, it’s just not the focus of the film. Caesar is at war with his inner demons as much as he is at war with The Colonel to protect his colony.

The series so far has had stellar performances from its apes, none more so than from Andy Serkis, but ‘War’ takes these performances to the next level. One must wonder what more Serkis must do to gain recognition from the Academy because his work in these films is utterly unparalleled. Caesar faces several obstacles to overcome, questions of family and loyalty and morality, all of which are written on his face in typically meticulous fashion. There are so many shots of Caesar’s eyes and they dominate the screen as he wrestles with himself and what he needs to do next. Caesar commands the screen in the same way he commands his colony. One raise of a hand is enough to silence a hundred apes, and he has the same effect on the viewing audience. Caesar is such an incredible achievement in character creation, design, and development that every word, every gesture feels weighty and important. Serkis’ fellow apes, Konoval, Notary, Zahn, are all impressive in their own right, but Serkis is the master, and in ‘War’ we are seeing a master at the very height of his powers.

If any criticism could be aimed at ‘Dawn’ it would be its lack of comic relief. ‘Dawn’ is a very dark film addressing a very serious subject matter, and while ‘War’ is no different by arguably going even darker, this criticism is addressed with the film-stealing Bad Ape (Zahn). After crossing paths with him accidentally on Caesar and company’s travels to find The Colonel, Bad Ape reveals himself to be an escaped chimpanzee from a zoo who learned to speak only by listening and, unlike most apes on screen, is unable to use sign language. Bad Ape learned to live on his own and meeting an ape of a different style to what we’re used to is a great touch for the third entry in the series. The comedy Bad Ape brings, both verbal and physical, is wholly satisfying, the highlight of which is a visual joke before they all set off on a long, cold journey north which had the entire cinema laughing.

Addressing the obvious, ‘War’ is home to the finest performance capture work in cinema. On a purely visual level, the Apes are stunning. No pixel has been left unused as every Ape on screen looks photorealistic, the most impressive of which on this front is Maurice (Konoval), the hulking Orangutan. Many, many critics state that the true power of any performance is in the eyes, and here it’s no different. Most of the Apes are unable to speak and communicate through sign language, so the eyes are as important as ever and each character’s eyes, whether Caesar, Maurice, Rocket (Notary), or Bad Ape, portray so much about their feelings in any given moment.

Beyond the Apes, the effects in general are stunning and I frequently found myself spellbound by the action on screen. Seamlessly blending CGI with humans, whether a small, lost girl (Miller) they found is hiding behind Maurice, or an Ape hands a human a machine gun magazine, it’s an achievement in itself that it looks so perfect. In scenes of battle and in quiet, dialogue filled scenes, the film manages to convince us that what we’re watching is real. If you were to show someone from even 1997 this film, they’d likely be convinced that these were real apes.

‘War’ is as good a series ender as any other. It manages to conclude Caesar’s arc in a satisfying way while keeping the doors open to future instalments. Reeves’ achievements with this film and ‘Dawn’ should not be underestimated as he has taken the fine foundation of ‘Rise’ and elevated it to a level beyond which any of us could have possibly imagined. For me, ‘Dawn’ remains the series’ peak, but ‘War’ is a stellar achievement in film-making. Apes. Trilogy. Strong.

Rhys’ rating: 9.1 out of 10

 

Take Your Stinking Paws Off Woody Harrelson You Damn Dirty Ape.

I long for a world (Planet of the Apes movie) where homo-sapiens and our primate friends live harmoniously together; alas my dream is quashed as Matt Reeves (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Cloverfield) will soon present ‘War for the Planet of the Apes’

The film speaks for itself, although a little awkwardly titled; humans and apes wage war against one another which will surely define the destinies for both species. Following a heavy defeat, Caesar struggles with his darker instincts and seeks retribution over mankind. With a great cast boasting Woody Harrelson and Andy Serkis, coupled with Matt Reeves and Die Hard 4.0 writer Mark Bomback adapting Pierre Boulle’s original writing, ‘War for Planet of the Apes’ certainly aims to pack cinema houses.

All good things must come to an end.

With a unique sense and ability to captivate audiences, Andy Serkis has become Hollywood’s go-to-guy for motion capture movies. Fans have followed the development of Serkis’ Caesar from Rise, Dawn and now War for the Planet of the Apes; it’s devastating to think that the third in the trilogy is tipped to be Caesar’s final.

‘War for Planet of the Apes’ is released in the UK on 12th July 2017. I’ll be re-familiarising myself with the previous two movies in the meantime.

Written by Mark F. Putley

The Final Trailer for ‘War For The Planet Of The Apes’ Is Unleashed

“Apes, together, strong” 

Matt Reeves returns to direct this third instalment of the ‘Planet of the Apes’ reboot, which is his second in the directors chair, having previously helmed the second film, ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’. Reeves worked with Mark Bomback to write the script. 

The fantastic Andy Serkis dons his motion capture suit to return as Caesar, leader of the apes, who appears to be struggling to keep his people safe from the humans, who are relentlessly attacking the apes. In the trailer, Caesar makes it clear he doesn’t want any sort of war with the humans, but if push comes to shove, he’s going to defend his family with everything he’s got.

This final trailer show us Caesar finding a young girl (Amiah Miller), who he offers to help and look after, much to the confusion of some of his fellow apes. It’s not clear if Miller’s character (who remains nameless on IMDB) will have a bigger role to play than it appears, for example if the Colonel (Woody Harrelson) see’s Caesar as a threat, he sure as hell isn’t going to like the idea of him having a human child.

‘War for the Planet of the Apes’ unleashes in UK cinemas July 10th! 

Synopsis: “Caesar and his apes are forced into a deadly conflict with an army of humans led by a ruthless Colonel. After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mythic quest to avenge his kind. As the journey finally brings them face to face, Caesar and the Colonel are pitted against each other in an epic battle that will determine the fate of both their species and the future of the planet”

Written by Tom Sheffield

War Has Begun In The First Trailer For War For The Planet Of The Apes!

Back in October, a 30 second teaser was released for ‘War for the Planet of the Apes’ in which Caesar had a chilling message that “war has begun”. Caesar, motion captured by Andy Serkis, is back and this time he means business! Opposing Caesar is a “ruthless Colonel”, played by Woody Harrelson, and is a new character being introduced in this sequel. Matt Reeves returns to the director’s chair for his second ‘Planet of the Apes’ film, his first being ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ which was released in 2014.

In this first trailer, we hear Caesar talking to someone about how he once offered humans peace and mercy, and from the clips that shortly follow we see Caesar intends to mercilessly retaliate against the humans persistent attacks on his kind. From the looks of it, we’re going to witness a huge brutal battle between the apes and the humans, which the Colonel calls “the last stand“. It looks to me like Colonel is on a personal vendetta and the only outcome that will suffice for him is the end of the apes.  Will Caesar offer peace one last time? Or will this be the war to end all conflict and leave only one side left standing?

The official synopsis for the third instalment of the ‘Planet of the Apes’ reboot is: 

Following the events of ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’, Caesar and his ape colony are embroiled in a battle with an army of humans. When the apes suffer heavy losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts as he resolves to avenge his kind. The battle puts Caesar against the humans’ leader, a ruthless Colonel, in an encounter that will determine the fate of their species and Earth’s future

‘War For The Planet Of The Apes’  roars into theatres 14th July 2017

Written by Tom Sheffield

Woody Harrelson Joins Apes Cast

Actor Woody Harrelson (Zombieland, Seven Psychopaths, True Detective) is set to be the next human villain in the upcoming film ‘War for the Planet of the Apes’. There’s not much else we know right now, besides the fact that his character’s name is going to be “The Colonel”.

‘War for the Planet of the Apes’ is the third film in the rebooted ‘Planet of the Apes’ series and will follow on from the events of ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’. I was already very excited about this next installment, and Woody Harrelson is just the icing on the cake. See The Colonel in action in the summer of 2017.

Written by Dalton Brown