War for the Planet of the Apes
The enthralling, modern Planet of the Apes trilogy comes to a close with its best chapter yet. Caesar (motion-capture Andy Serkis) is holding his own in the forest with his band of ape soldiers when a crazed colonel (Woody Harrelson) finds him and delivers a painful blow. Caesar finds himself on a revenge quest, with the likes of Rocket (Terry Notary), Maurice (Karin Konoval) and a new character named Bad Ape (a funny Steve Zahn) in tow. It all leads to a man vs. ape showdown for the ages, and the special effects that were great in the first movie are 10 times better in the third. For fans of the original Apes films, this movie is a virtual love letter to the series. It even has a mute girl named Nova (Amiah Miller), the same name as the girl who saw the Statue of Liberty with Charlton Heston in the original. Matt Reeves, directing his second Ape film, has managed to imbue his special effects-laden adventure with genuine emotion. This is a big budget blockbuster with heart and soul. While this concludes a trilogy, it’s a safe bet it won’t be the last for the Apes. If you recall, astronauts went missing in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Events in this film seem to be leading up to the events of the original movie. We might be getting a new dude in a loin cloth barking at Lady Liberty in our cinematic future.
4 Spider Man: HomecomingThe last two Spidey adventures were a bummer. Things get back on track in a fun way with Spider-Man: Homecoming, a complete overhaul of the Peter Parker character thanks to the effervescent casting of Tom Holland, a fine actor and an impressive athlete (he does most of his own acrobatic stunts). The film gets a great villain in Vulture, played with snarling glee by Michael Keaton. Director Jon Watts and an admittedly ridiculous number of writers give Vulture an interesting origin. He’s Adrian Toones, a construction salvage worker who had a city contract to clean up the mess in New York City after the events of The Avengers. Some government types take over and kick him off the gig, leaving him pissed and with a bunch of high-tech alien junk in his possession. Toones constructs some weapons, including an elaborate winged suit, with the alien technology and, voila, Vulture. Parker is a younger incarnation this time out, dealing with typical high school traumas that seem a little trivial after the events of Captain America: Civil War, where he sort of saved the day. He’s gone from stealing Captain America’s shield to worrying about girls, and he’s just a little bored. Enter Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) who has given Parker his Spidey suit with some conditions, like that he can only be a “friendly neighborhood Spider-Man,” concentrating on local problems rather than the really big, worldly ones. The film is basically one half kick-ass Marvel movie—Watts is no slouch with an action sequence—and one half enjoyable and frothy high school comedy that would make John Hughes proud.