“War for the Planet of the Apes”
Director Matt Reeves’ “War for the Planet of the Apes” is an astonishingly dramatic film. The third film in this ape/human saga rivals the emotional impact produced by Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.
Though this is a film that is easy to dismiss, you make a great mistake in doing so. Ironically, the struggle of the apes to survive the human onslaught is extraordinarily similar to the fate of Native Americans over the past several centuries.
Caesar (Andy Serkis) hopes to finally live in peace with the surviving humans. Unfortunately, a heartless human colonel (Woody Harrelson) seeks their annihilation. Directing his colony to travel to a safe location, Caesar leaves on a personal journey of revenge against the colonel.
Joined by a few friends who want to help, they accidently bump into two loveable outcasts who become members of their small team. The first is known as Bad Ape, played in hysterical fashion by Steve Zahn. In addition, a mute 8-year-old human girl, Nova (Amiah Miller) joins them, and she soon earns the love and respect of Caesar.
Caesar discovers that the humans have captured the group of apes that he abandoned, and they are being held captive as they are forced to perform slave labor. Caesar is now confronted with choosing between revenge and finding a way to help the apes escape, and the ensuing battle will grab your heart as it challenges your senses.
Serkis’ role as Caesar hopefully will earn him Oscar consideration. He gives a vibrant performance that rivals his portrayal of Gollum in the above-mentioned “Lord of the Rings” series, and he will tug at your heartstrings as you root for Caesar’s survival.
As for Harrelson, his colonel is as smart and sinister as the role played by Marlon Brando in “Apocalypse Now” (1979). The colonel is ruthless for a reason relating to his role in the death of his only son, and his demented desire to destroy the apes resembles that used by the Nazis to exterminate Jews during World War II.
While there is not a bad performance in this film, I have to point out Karin Konoval, who played Caesar’s loyal friend Maurice. A tree sloth, he has a heart of gold, and his decision to save the life of young Nova will leave all of you smiling with joy.
While I make no apologies for crying in many films, the end of this movie brought back the tears that I wiped away at the end of this year’s “Logan.” The film’s dramatic conclusion follows a monumental battle that involves striking special effects, and you know that not everyone can come out of this struggle for survival alive.
Here’s to you, Mr. Serkis. This gut-wrenching film has a depth that will hopefully result in a large group of movie-goers setting aside their apprehension to see you on the big screen.
“The Big Sick”
Write this down and preserve it for future reference: “The Big Sick,” directed by Micheal Showalter and co-produced by Judd Apatow, is the best movie to be released up to this point in 2017.
It is funny, emotional, creative and wonderfully romantic. On top of that, tears of joy repeatedly ran down my aging cheeks.
The film tells the real-life story of the personal relationship of Kumail Nanjiani and his wife Emily V. Gordon, who wrote this brilliant script. To his everlasting credit, Nanjiani plays himself, here known by his actual name. A native of Pakistan who is working to build a career as a stand-up comic, he develops a relationship with Emily, a young woman who was in the audience watching his performance. While love follows, these two wonderful souls find that it is not always a many splendored thing.
Zoe Kazan gives a sensational performance as Emily, a feisty graduate student studying to be a therapist. Her intelligence only feeds a wicked sense of humor. For example, when she accompanies Kumail home after their first encounter where they have sex, she rejects his attempts for an encore with the statement, “I’m not that type of girl. I only have sex one time on the first date.”
Nonetheless, trouble looms in the form of Kumail’s powerful parents, played by Anupam Kher and Zenobia Shroff. They are both traditional Pakistani Muslims, and they are dedicated to making sure their son marries a Pakistani girl. In the process, Kumail’s regular dinner visits with his parents inevitably include an alleged surprise visit by an eligible Pakistani girl.
While the stress leads to a break in the relationship of our two lovers, trauma follows when Emily is hospitalized and induced into a coma to treat her as yet unknown condition. Wait until you see Kumail’s interaction with Emily’s parents at the hospital. Played in unbelievable fashion by Holly Hunter and Ray Romano, there are repeated moments that will make you laugh almost as hard you cry.
Emily’s parents are as heartsick over her condition as they are troubled by the presence of what they perceive to be a Pakistani ex-boyfriend. The script reaches an Oscar-worthy level in numerous scenes, not the least of which is the moment when Romano’s Terry asks Kumail his opinion on 9/11. His response is likely to become part of movie lore.
This film is a gripping love story about two young people trying to overcome class and racial divisions that pulse through our national culture to this very day. Families pass judgment as much as strangers. Try to bring a Pakistani Muslim home to meet mom and dad.•
• Robert Hammerle practices criminal law in Indianapolis at Pence Hensel LLC as of counsel. When he is not in the courtroom or the office, Bob can likely be found at one of his favorite movie theaters. To read more of his reviews, visit www.bigmouthbobs.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.