Custom Search





War For The Planet

Of The Apes • Dunkirk

July 20, 2017

War For The Planet

Of The Apes (** ½) PG-13

To paraphrase a line of dialogue from the nearly fifty-year old initial entry in the series,

those ‘damn dirty apes’ are back. War for the Planet of the Apes, in case you aren’t in the know or have forgotten, is the third and supposed final entry in a prequel series that began six years with Ape’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes and was followed three years later with the critically lauded entry Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. The middle chapter, Dawn, was a film that earned most of the acclaim that it was awarded. Matt Reeves, the director behind such well received genre fare as Let Me In and Cloverfield, injected a much needed intelligence and humanity into the proceedings. That’s a rarity in the current movie studio climate for anyone who hasn’t been keeping score.

Dawn of the Planet of Apes dealt with the main ape character, Caesar, being at odds with rival primate, Koba. Koba, it seems, harbored ill will towards humans due to his being the subject of botched experiments. Koba and Caesar squared off in the finale as a virus simultaneously wiped out most of humanity, which paved the way for the current film.

As War begins, Caesar (Andy Serkis, amazing as ever in another terrific motion capture performance), just wants to live and let live with his family in the forest as the remaining humans deal with the aftereffects of the virus unleashed at the end of the previous entry.

Woody Harrelson in War for the Planet of the Apes

The apes get a chance to make a new start in a new land but Caesar must first contend with a mad colonel (Woody Harrelson) who is responsible for personal losses that Caesar has endured. If you’re thinking that having a character hunt down a mad colonel might be an allusion to Apocalypse Now then you’re on the right track.

Eventually, Caesar is imprisoned with other primates whom the colonel has enslaved as a make shift work force which he intends to put to use in the building of a border wall. This element comes across as a bit forced. Still, credit must be given to Reeves for attempting to keep things relevant in the President Trump world in which we live.

The final act of the film involves an attempt to free Caesar and his comrades from their prison and this is where the film stumbles. The pacing of the film slows to a crawl at this point and hurts the film as a whole. Thankfully, things are wrapped up in a way that feels satisfying.

The biggest problem, much as it was an issue the last time around, is the overstuffed running time. Shorn of about half an hour, War for the Planet of the Apes could have really ranked higher for me if the last section didn’t feel like such an endurance test. There’s still much to embrace but it’s a shame that it’s a definite step down from the last trip to apes territory as opposed to a step up in terms of quality.

Dunkirk (** ½) PG-13

It’s usually a good barometer as to how emotionally invested I am in a film when I repeatedly have to remind myself not to let my mind drift and to focus on what’s at hand. I mention that due to the fact that I can’t recall the amount of times I had to refocus my attention during the recent screening of filmmaker Christopher Nolan’s much anticipated WWII film Dunkirk. I lost count somewhere during the second half hour when I slowly started to realize that this wasn’t going to be the kind of cinematic event where character arc or character motivation is at the center. If that’s what you’re looking for then you’re best advised to stay at home and rewatch Saving Private Ryan, a celebrated film about WWII that certainly had some issues in the narrative department but compensated with its human element. That’s something that’s not on display in Dunkirk.

The best analogy that comes to mind in describing Dunkirk would be that it’s the movie equivalent to a nice shiny Cadillac with no engine.

Tom Hardy in Dunkirk

It looks great and all the technical details contained therein are impeccably rendered, courtesy of writer/director Christopher Nolan’s knack for that sort of thing. The problem is that the characters in Dunkirk are indistinguishable and mainly used in service of the film’s recreation of the WWII era instead of the other way around. If there were one character I was emotionally invested in perhaps I wouldn’t have had to constantly remind myself to pay dynamic, vigorous attention. As a result the experience of seeing the film proved to be a tiring one in more ways than one.

The action takes place in May 1940 when French and British soldiers found themselves stuck in the port of the film’s title. Prime Minister Winston Churchill decreed that a rescue be staged and that forms the chunk of narrative that exists in the film. There are, of course, battle scenes in the interim, all very well staged as previously mentioned, but the rescue attempt takes precedence here.

It’s worth noting that the film’s structure is of a non-linear fashion. Nolan has made a career out of doing that sort of thing and generally it has worked out well for him. Here it feels forced and doesn’t serve any real purpose other than for Nolan to show that he’s in control and, cinematic rules be damned, he’s going to do things his way. The film cuts back and forth between several ongoing story threads featuring an impressive roster of talent that includes Tom Hardy (performing with a mask on throughout the film much as he did in the final installment of Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy), Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh and Harry Styles of the boy band, One Direction.

Credit must be given for Nolan’s ability to wrap things up shy of the two-hour mark for the first time in a while and, of course, the spot on recreation of the period. If only he’d spent half as much time crafting some characters we could care about. 

Both movies are playing at the AMC in Hickory.

Questions or comments? Write Adam at



The Big Sick • The Hero

Spiderman: Homecoming

The Beguiled & Baby Driver

All Eyez On Me

It Comes At Night & Paris Can Wait

The Lovers • The Mummy

Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales & Wonder Woman

Alien: Covenant


Guardians Of The Galaxy & Volume 2

The Lost City Of Z


The Fate Of The Furious & Going In Style

T2 Trainspotting

Life • Wilson

The Sense Of An Ending


Kong: Skull Island

I Am Not Your Negro & Logan

Get Out & The Red Turtle

A Cure For Wellness & Fifty Shades Darker

Rings & John Wick: Chapter 2


Split • The Founder

Silence • Patriots Day

A Monster Calls & Hidden Figures

Paterson & 20th Century Women


Fences • Sing • Rogue One

Nocturnal Animals • La La Land & Collateral Beauty

Why Him?

Manchester By The Sea Allied • Loving

Rules Don’t Apply • Moana & Bad Santa 2

Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them • Moonlight

Arrival & Dr. Strange

Hacksaw Ridge

Inferno & Ouija: Origin Of Evil

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

The Girl On The Train & The Accountant

Masterminds • Deep Water Horizon • Birth Of A Nation

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children

Snowden & The Magnificent Seven

Bridget Jones’ Baby & Blair Witch


The Light Between Oceans

Hell Or High Water & Don't Breathe

Sausage Party & Indignation

Florence Foster Jenkins & Pete's Dragon • Café Society

Eat That Question & Suicide Squad

Star Trek Beyond & Jason Bourne

Lights Out


The Purge: Election Year

Independence Day: Resurgence • The BFG

Free State Of Jones & DePalma

Now You See Me 2 & Finding Dory

The Conjuring 2 & Me Before You

X Men: Apocalypse Love And Friendship

The Lobster & The Meddler

Money Monster • The Nice Guys Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising

Miles Ahead

Elvis And Nixon Green Room

Midnight Special Everybody Wants Some

The Jungle Book

I Saw The Light • The Boss

Hello My Name Is Doris & Krisha

Divergent: Allegiant & Batman v Superman

10 Cloverfield Lane & Brothers Grimsby

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot & London Has Fallen

Triple 9 & 45 Years

Eddie The Eagle• The Witch

Where To Invade Next & Son Of Saul

Deadpool • The Choice • How To Be Single

Hail Caesar & Fifty Shades Of Black

The Finest Hours & The 5th Wave

Mustang & The Lady In The Van

Anomalisa • 13 Hours: The & Secret Soldiers Of Benghazi

The Revenant • Youth

Carol • Joy • The Hateful Eight

Star Wars: The Force Awakens • The Big Short • Concussion

Daddy’s Home • Alvin & The Chipmunks: The Road Chip

In The Heart Of The Sea • Krampus

Creed • Brooklyn


‘Mockingjay Part 2’ • All Things Must Pass • The Night Before


Spectre & The Peanuts Movie

Steve Jobs & Our Brand Is Crisis

Crimson Peak & Room

Bridge Of Spies & Goosebumps

99 Homes

The Martian • Sicario & The Walk

The Intern • The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials • Everest

The Visit & Black Mass

Mistress America

The Diary Of A Teenage Girl A Walk In The Woods

American Ultra • No Escape • Sinister 2

Straight Outta Compton, The End Of The Tour, The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Irrational Man & Fantastic Four

Ricki And The Flash & The Gift

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation • Southpaw • Vacation

Ant-Man & Trainwreck


Amy • Magic Mike XXL, Terminator: Genisys

Me & Earl & The Dying Girl, Ted 2

Inside Out & Dope

Love and Mercy & Jurassic World

Insidious Chapter 3

San Andreas & Aloha

Poltergeist &

Mad Max: Fury Road

Hot Pursuit

Avengers: Age Of Ultron

Ex Machina

While We’re Young & Unfriended

The Longest Ride

Fast & Furious 7

It Follows




Focus & The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Hot Tub Time Machine 2

Fifty Shades Of Grey

Jupiter Ascending

Still Alice

The Imitation Game A Most Violent Year

American Sniper Inherent Vice

Selma & Taken 3


Big Eyes • The Interview

Night At The Museum The Secret of the Tomb • The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Top Five • Wild • Annie


Whiplash & The Theory Of Everything

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 • Horrible Bosses 2

Dumb And Dumber To

Birdman & Interstellar




The Judge

Annabelle & Gone Girl

The Equalizer & Happy 75th, GWTW!

The Drop • A Walk Among & The Tombstones

No Good Deed

The Identical

As Above, So Below & November Man

If I Stay & Sin City: A Dame To Kill For

The Giver • Code Black & The Expendables 3

Boyhood • Into The Storm & Magic In The Moonlight

Get On Up & Guardians Of The Galaxy


Begin Again & The Purge: Anarchy

Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes

Chef & Tammy

Transformers: Age Of Extinction

Jersey Boys

22 Jump Street & How To Train Your Dragon 2

The Fault Is In Our Stars & Edge Of Tomorrow

A Million Ways To Die In The West

X-Men: Days Of Future Past Maleficent

Godzilla • Summer Preview

Neighbors • Godzilla

The Amazing Spiderman 2 & Belle

The Other Woman & Brick Mansions

A Haunted House 2 & Heaven Is For Real

Oculus & Rio 2

Captain America: The Winter Soldier



The Grand Budapest Hotel & Veronica Mars

300: Rise of the Empire

Non-Stop & Son Of God

Three Days To Kill

Robocop & The Past • About Last Night

The Monuments Men

Labor Day

I, Frankenstein

Inside Llewyn Davis & Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Lone Survivor & August: Osage County

Her • Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones

Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom & The Wolf Of Wall Street

The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty, Saving Mr. Banks, American Hustle, Anchorman 2

The Hobbit: The Desolation & Of Smaug • Nebraska

Dallas Buyers Club & Oldboy & Out Of The Furnace

Philomena & The Book Thief

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire & Delivery Man

About Time & All Is Lost

Thor: The Dark World & 12 Years A Slave

Ender’s Game & Last Vegas

Bad Grandpa &The Counselor

Carrie & The Fifth Estate

Captain Phillips, Enough Said & Machete Kills

Gravity & Runner Runner

Metallica: Through The Never , Rush & Don Jon

Prisoners & Rush

Insidious: Chapter 2 • The Family & The Spectacular Now



The World’s End You’re Next

Lee Daniels’ The Butler • Jobs • Blue Jasmine

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters & Elysium

2 Guns

Blue Jasmine • The Wolverine & Fruitvale Station

Fruitvale Station • The Conjuring & The Way Way Back

Pacific Rim & Grown Ups 2

The Lone Ranger & Despicable Me 2

The Heat & White House Down

Monsters University, World War Z, Before Midnight & The East

Man of Steel & This Is The End

The Internship & The Purge

After Earth, Now You See Me & Frances Ha

The Hangover Part III Before Midnight

Star Trek: Into Darkness & Fast and Furious 6

The Great Gatsby & Frances Ha

Iron Man & Peeples

Pain and Gain & Mud

Oblivion & Lords of Salem

42 and Scary Movie 5

Evil Dead & Jurassic Park 3-D

G.I. Joe: Retaliation Tyler Perry’s Temptation

Spring Breakers Admission

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone • The Call

Oz: The Great And Powerful West Of Memphis

Jack the Giant Slayer The Last Exorcism, Part II

Dark Skies & Snitch

A Good Day to Die Hard & Safe Haven

Side Effects & Identity Thief

Bullet To The Head Warm Bodies




BannerEventAd-01.jpg   fanjoylabrenz.jpg

PO Box 1721 | Hickory, NC 28603 | 828.322.1036 | Office Hours: Mon. - Fri. 9am - 5pm |

Home • Reviews: MoviesAdam Long • Editorials: FocusHave Chainsaw Will TravelSid On SportsBobbi GSara MawyerPeople PicturesPlaces/PeopleExtra Events Listing
Out Of Focus • News: Local NewsNational NewsHoroscopes • Info/Links: Staff/ContributorsList Of AdvertisersOnline AdvertisingOnline ClassifiedsContact UsFocus BLOGStoreLinks

© 1978 - 2017 Tucker Productions, Inc.