7. War For the Planet of the Apes
The latest chapter in the Planet of the Apes franchise has religion on its mind, and the story is shaped as an Exodus-like spiritual fable—with head ape Caesar (Andy Serkis) cast in the role of Moses.
Caesar squares off against the Colonel (Woody Harrelson), who leads a splinter military faction that believes their war against the apes is a holy crusade. It is humanity’s divine right, the Colonel believes, to have dominion over the earth, and he’s not about to let a bunch of darn, dirty apes take over. But in a dystopian world where apes show far more humanity than the actual humans on the scene, who would God really favor?
War features some of the best CGI effects I’ve ever seen. The apes, beginning with Serkis’ Caesar but hardly limited to him, show more realistic human emotion than Keanu Reeves has during his entire film career. But it’s all done in service to the story, and that story packs a considerable wallop. This is a blockbuster that doesn’t just make you feel: It makes you think.