Planet of the Apes – Supremacy concludes a trilogy that began six years ago. This ultimate opus, eagerly awaited after two quality films, does it really manage to keep the saga afloat
The trilogy is a popular studio format, as most mainstream sagas of the 2000s show. Heir to a visionary film, the Planet of the Apes franchise has so far managed to convert the essay by following a narrative arc certainly expected, but particularly solid. The opportunity to focus on the fate of the Caesar monkey, and to discover its slow rise in power, made up of internal wars between primates and humans.
The end of the second opus also hinted at the content of the last act, clearly oriented towards a large-scale conflict. Like the Matrix or the Lord of the Rings before him, the “new” Planet of the Apes would end in a warlike flood. Matt Reeves, in charge of the saga since the second episode, however managed to avoid this pitfall by refining what he had started in The Confrontation : the writing of his characters.
Aware of the content of his subject and the target audience, the American sprinkles his film with breathless action phases. Evidenced by an impressive opening scene, which proves that the modeling of monkeys has progressed further. Apart from some somewhat mechanical movements, the impression of witnessing a battle between man and animal is significant. This otherness is reinforced by the photography of Michael Seresin, which often opposes austere military complexes and large expanses of nature.
Beyond a dynamic staging, the work of the Weta Digital teams pushes the boundaries of motion capture. Without ever giving up their animality, chimpanzees let shine through an even more subtle palette of emotion. Caesar and his close guard are also the best ambassadors of this colossal work.
For once, Andy Serkis manages to infuse a welcome seriousness into his role. Each of his expressions, however slight, are transcribed on the ape face of the hero. His score is intended to be darker, because it is intimately linked to revenge, a deeply human feeling. The character has never looked so much like us. It is above all thanks to the exploration of this similarity between races that Matt Reeves manages to elevate his film higher than mere entertainment.
While the previous episode pitted him against another monkey, the main antagonist is now a bloodthirsty colonel who enforces martial laws for the supposed protection of his race. If the political message may seem very heavy, the director manages to qualify his remarks. In particular by evoking the fate of primates who have chosen the opposing camp, or by recalling that man is above all a wolf for man. Although he is a murderer, the colonel, like Caesar, experienced the loss of a loved one. This precision in writing, which has become quite rare in the blockbuster, makes it possible to avoid the sanitizing Manichaeism inherent in this type of production. The spectator recognizes himself of course in the apes, but human behavior is no stranger to him.
Through the treatment of primates, the second part of the film insists in subtext on our condition. Parked in a camp, the monkeys are reduced to forced labor until exhaustion. The parallel between what they experience and the fate of millions of human beings for centuries is obvious, and reminds us that certain parts of our history are definitely doomed to repeat themselves. With finesse, the appearance of a tame zoo monkey underscores our almost natural penchant for enslaving animal bodies. We also detect the beginning of an interesting ecological message, but this character is unfortunately not sufficiently exploited.
It is this moment that Reeves chooses to give rhythm to the whole, by eyeing gently on The Great Escape or even the first episode of the saga. The references are certainly already seen, but the prism of animality gives them freshness.
Chastised as an example, he makes Caesar a quasi-Christic figure while a grandiose escape is organized. The film cannot help but emphasize that salvation comes from others, using the famous figure of the human child as a message of hope. Hope, the director who will take care of the reboot of Batman has just given us back, by signing the best film of the trilogy.