War for the Planet of the Apes has arrived, and nobody’s safe in the first trailer — watch

The third installment in the prequel story will hit theaters in mid-July 2017

Two years ago, Matt Reeves managed to accomplish something that more and more filmmakers are struggling to do in a studio filmmaking climate increasingly overwhelmed by sequels, franchises, reboots, re-quels, and other methods of turning out the same guaranteed properties ad nauseum. He actually made a movie, in the midst of all that, that was not only a great franchise movie and an improvement on its effective predecessor, but a great movieDawn of the Planet of the Apes managed to transcend the “yeah, naked ape armies” premise and form an uncommonly effective allegory for the human drive to destroy itself, even when a better and more peaceful way tries to avail itself. And that feels about as true now as it ever has.

Now, Reeves is back behind the camera for what would presumably conclude this origin trilogy, before we eventually return to a full-bore Planet of the Apes situation. War for the Planet of the Apes picks up after the last film, when Caesar (Andy Serkis) was forced to take up arms against humanity to defend his own, and lives were greviously lost on both sides. Now, a final resistance led by Woody Harrelson looks to take the fight to Caesar’s tribe and home. (Sure, Gary Oldman’s attempts at this in Dawn didn’t go well, but desperate times and so on.) The recent Apes films have managed an earned, authentic kind of grit that so many other franchise movies have tried to approximate, and it’s because of the time taken to invest audiences in not only Caesar and the empathetic humanoid apes, but the humans as well, who for all their failures are still just a mirror vision of scared creatures trying to protect their own.

In what’s already shaping up to be another summer full of cacophonous franchise launches and continuations, here’s one that might actually deliver on its bleak, apparently Game of Thrones-influenced brutality in a more effective kind of way. War for the Planet of the Apes will see theaters on July 14th, 2017.


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