War! Huh. Yeah. What is it good for?
…Selling movie tickets apparently. This week I saw two films about war and I had some thoughts about them.
War for the Planet of the Apes
This is the last instalment of the new Planet of the Apes trilogy and as I had been surprised by the first and adored the second, I was both supremely excited and nervous that it wouldn’t live up to expectations.
I am pleased to say I enjoyed it a lot. The story is dark and unafraid to dive into the harsh and heartbreaking realities of war which I feel most blockbusters shy away from as it is difficult to portray the seriousness of a topic without it seeming over the top. The fact this series has managed to avoid that is a combination of the writing and stunning performances from it’s main cast. Genuinely I think Andy Serkis may be an actual god sent to earth for the sole purpose of showing everyone how you mix pure acting with the brilliance and technological intricacies of motion capture, and I’m actually now excited to see what they’ve done with The Jungle Book. There was the sense of needing an epic end to this trilogy to really bring it to a close and I think it nearly hit that.
It wasn’t without a few problems for me. At times I was highly conscious of the music telling me what to feel which could have been reigned back as the characters alone conveyed that emotion by themselves. The story was not quite as slick as the first two films and I felt at certain points it was Present Problem- Immediate Fix To Problem which I think mainly came from the film following just Ceasar and his actions for a lot of the film rather than jumping perspectives as the second film did. There was also a part at the end which seemed too easy and simple for my liking. Also as the Kermode and Mayo film review podcast points out, there’s a heavy influence of the Vietnam war and its imagery in this film which was not a problem in itself but I would be interested to see why the creators chose this versus the original concepts it has dealt with before.
However, overall I think this was a great end to the trilogy and I can’t wait to binge-watch through all three at some point in the future.
From one war to another, on Friday I saw Dunkirk. This is a new film written and directed by Christopher Nolan about the events at Dunkirk at the start of the Second World War. Now unlike WftPotA, I wasn’t really fussed about going to see this but I am so so happy I did.
The film follows three time lines in three locations. One: the beach lasting a week, Two: the boat lasting a day, and Three: the plane lasting one hour. What it interesting is how the film parallels scenes from different time frames and almost makes them speak to the others. Also the film never over-explains itself, which it could easily do with added in time markers, as it trusts implicitly in the intelligence of it’s audience.
This is a film that happens to be set in a war rather than being an outright war film. It’s heart and soul are not in the battle that surrounds it but is solidly routed in the characters. I was really impressed by all the performances and with this calibre of cast I wouldn’t have expected anything else. Special mentions to Fionn Whitehead and, I can’t believe I’m writing this, Harry Styles as I thought they did amazing work.
Do I really have to say much about the score? Other than that Hans Zimmer is amazing? I don’t think so. Unlike what I thought for WftPotA, the music in this is so subtle that you don’t realise it’s adding to the tension until you listen to it on its own and are hit by its full impact. The cinematography was gorgeous, the washed out feel making the sequences seem dream like and like looking into a photo from the past and really adding to the stark reality of what the characters faced.
Overall the film had an emotional impact I wasn’t expecting which pushed it from great to amazing in my eyes and I think how much you connect to those characters and the effect of the mounting tension really will determine your thoughts on this film.
Also quick additional note: I didn’t see this in IMAX as so many people have been pushing for and it still looked and sounded great so don’t feel put off by everyone shouting that you have to see it in IMAX if you can’t!
So have you seen either of these films or have I convinced you to go and check them out? What did you think of them? Let me know in the comments!