War for the Planet of the Apes


After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mythic quest to avenge his kind. This conclusion to the reboot trilogy that began with Rise and became even more comeplling in 2014’s Dawn, so I was extremely looking forward to see what would happen next in War. Matt Reeves returns from the previous installment after receiving lots of praise and doing a terrific job, and here he carries enough of the emotion and brilliant visuals and action sequences that kept me so engaged in Dawn over to this one. Andy Serkis is one of the most dedicated and talented motion capture artists working today, if not the best in our time. He’s delivered some of the most impressive motion-capture performances in recent years, including Gollum in the Middle-Earth movies, King Kong in Peter Jackson’s 2005 film, and Supreme Leader Snoke in the new Star Wars movies. His performance in this trilgoy as Ceasar is at the top, with the depth and presence Serkis is able to deliver only through a motion capture suit is unbelieavble. The visual effects, like its predecessors, are some of the best in recent years, with the CGI used in the three films to turn actors wearing suits into apes being some of the best motion capture and visual effects work recently. In both the previous movies, there are main human characters being developed, with lots of the last films being told from the perspectives of the humans, most notably the leads James Franco or Jason Clarke. However, the humans are a much smaller emotional focus this time and the apes are the sole core of the film. Despite the humans playing a big role in the plot, only one human character is developed, and that is a ruthless army colonel played by Woody Harrelson. Harrelson’s menacing and terrific performance poses an excellent threat against Caesar, and we understand the Colonel’s motivation and fear, as well Caesar’s hate against him. Harrelson was a perfect casting choice and really impressed me in one of the best villanous performances this year.

If, like me, you were impressed by how much the previous installment surpassed your expectations with its incredible directing, storytelling, characters, and themes, then War will have more than enough to amuse you.  Matt Reeves once again delivers great themes about what we do when we act out of fear, and the relationship between mankind and nature. The editing is never too quick, and the action is stirkingly shot. Most of the scenes that provide intensity were very good at achieving their goal to the audience in the way that they did. The way Caesar’s emotional conflict is explored is  smart and carries the film very well, as well as the development of every other ape character in the film. The trailers hardly reveal anything about the overall plot of the film, other than the obvious fact that the humans and apes are at war.It was interesting to learn what would drive the characters throughout the movie and where the conflict was going. Some exposition is slightly confusing at first but eventually effective once you get it, and a few supporting characters that I wans’t too sold on, including a human character named Preacher who could have used a tad more development and an ape named Bad Ape who didn’t do much for me. However, War was what it needed to be and will definitely satisfy those looking for a strong conclusion to this epic trilogy. Many are calling this the best in the trilogy, but I personally feel that it is the weakest of the three. That doesn’t mean I didn’t have a great time with it and or wans’t impressed or satisfied by the end, but I just believe that Rise and Dawn were stronger installments. At the end of the first two, it feels like a lot has changed from the beginning, and this one has less of that feeling of change by the time the climax has ended. Also, this definitely did not feel like the 2-hour and 20-minute movie, but the pacing is good for whatt he runtime felt like. War for the Planet of the Apes is as good as I hoped for it to be, with terrific visual work and directing, as well as thrilling action sequences and dialogue. Andy Serkis and Woody Harrelson did not let me down, and although Dawn is still my favorite of the trilogy, I was by the end amused by what I had watched and this is a very admirable and recommended sequel.

Caesar, with a shotgun and Nova behind his back, Maurice, and Luca on horses face a human army and turncoat apes with the film's logo and "Witness the End July 14" at the bottom.

Now You See Me 2


In the sequel to the 2013 heist thriller hit, a good percentage of the Horsemen resurface for a comeback performance only to be threatened into pulling off a dangerous heist by tech prodigy Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe). Their only hope is to perform one last stunt to clear their names and reveal the mastermind behind it all.

Now You See Me 2 sacrifices everything that made the first movie successful and entertaining to bring you a bloated, unimpressive, and ridiculous mess of a sequel. Jon M. Chu (director of G.I. Joe: Retaliation and other bad films) was one of the worst choices to direct this film. He turns the franchise from a heist chase thriller into an action caper, which really does not suit the films. The first movie’s original taste and fun is gone here. Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, and Dave Franco are not as good as they were in the first film, although Mark Ruffalo still delivers almost as well. Replacing fourth Horseman Isla Fisher is Lizzy Caplan, who is surprisingly entertaining and without a doubt, the most fun part of the movie. However, none of the actors besides Caplan seem like they’re having fun with the film, even Ruffalo doesn’t feel like he’s always enjoying being there, even though he gives it his all. Daniel Radcliffe’s onscreen presence here was awful, with his character having an unclear motive and barely any point in the film. Michael Caine was also very dull, and Morgan Freeman’s return was way too unnecessary. The movie’s plot is not focused well, and is badly shot and edited, with every shot not feeling continuously edited well. Even the movie’s title feels very lousy and unimaginative (what’s wrong with a title like Now You See Me: Now You Don’t?) By the end of the movie, everything is so ridiculous, not to mention that there is way too much going on, and the right things are never explained. The third act was too complicated and tiring and nothing important went explained. Also, a lot of the movie was way too predictable because of how cheesy and cliche a lot of the plot points were. This film brings the franchise on a completely wrong track, to the point where a third film just wouldn’t work.

Now You See Me 2 is a disappointing and uninspired summer sequel with unfocused narrative and directing. There is just way too much going on for you to care, and nothing is explained well when explanation is needed. Most of the cast is not great, and the movie is lost within the wrong genre. If there’s a film you want to go watch on the big screen, you should not consider this one.

Now You See Me 2 poster.jpg