Reel Reviews: Humans, apes, and spiders… oh my!

By on July 19, 2017

‘War for the Planet of the Apes’

The end is nigh, and it sits at No. 1 at the box office.

“War for the Planet of the Apes” had a successful opening on Friday, bringing in holiday weekend numbers for the final chapter of the sci-fi trilogy. Starting in 2011 with “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” the three-part story tells the tale of Caesar, an ape whose intelligence surpasses normality with the aid of human experimentation and leads the world into war and near annihilation.

In “War for the Planet of the Apes,” Caesar is bent on revenge and the primate general miscalculates while up against The Colonel (Woody Harrelson). Without giving the entire story away, we are tasked to wonder what will be the future of ape and mankind?

Harrelson puts on his best Colonel Walter E. Kurtz impression as the story takes on an overtly “Apocalypse Now” vibe. If I wasn’t such a fan of the 1979 film I would regard the entire movie as one big rip-off of the Francis Ford Coppola classic, but we are talking about apes in a futuristic America, not soldiers on the killing fields of southeast Asia. This is entertainment, where “Apocalypse Now” is art.

With a nice little bow on the sunrise of apekind, “War for the Planet of the Apes” wraps up Caesar’s storyline. But, is it over? I’m not so sure. Certainly, Chernin Entertainment can foresee a quick cash-grab by creating a post-Caesar conflict. My money is on another “Apes” movie surfacing– or at least rumbling rumors of one — about the time we hit the 10-year anniversary of “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” Stay tuned.

‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’

Before this movie even hit the big screen, there was a collective sigh of relief from Spidey purists; finally, the friendly neighborhood web slinger will be done right.

“Spider-Man: Homecoming” is the first Spider-Man movie by Marvel Studios; previous titles were brought to theaters by Columbia Pictures (“Spider-Man” in 2002 with Tobey Maguire) and Columbia via Universal Studios (“The Amazing Spider-Man” in 2012 with Andrew Garfield). Now that Marvel has its paws back on one of its most famous characters, nothing can go wrong! Right?

With $208 million in its coffers after two weeks, it seems like movie buffs were all in with this redux featuring Tom Holland as Peter Parker. First seen in “Captain America: Civil War,” this Spider-Man’s appeal is his naiveté and quick wit, which more closely matches the comic book hero many of us have grown up following.

What “Spider-Man: Homecoming” is missing is not really missed: the backstory. Unless you’ve been hiding from pop culture for decades you know the young Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive spider and develops super-human strength and the attributes of a spider. My purist sense was tingling and I worried about the viewers new to the character’s history as some bits of the backstory were merely brushed over or completely left out of this tale.

The best part is that Spidey is trying to be an average teen, but having already tangled with the Avengers (see “Captain America: Civil War”) he’s having a hard time focusing on high school and his future. The romantic edge is dull, which is fine. Michael Keaton plays a good villain as The Vulture. And the slew of great actors making it into this new Marvel-owned enterprise is fun and refreshing. If you are a Marvel Universe fan you’ve probably already seen this movie; if not, it is worth seeing on the big screen… but, how do you feel about the after credits bonus scene?

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