While I grew up admiring the “Planet Of The Apes” films, I never felt any particular desire to see the franchise continued as part of the modern cinema landscape.
That changed with “Rise Of The Planet of The Apes,” and I remember how surprised I was by my reaction. It was such a smart and soulful way to reboot things, and Caesar (Andy Serkis) is not just one of the biggest accomplishments in performance based visual effects in the last few decades, he's also a beautifully written series protagonist in general, struggling to not only find his own way in the world, but to change that world for the better.
“Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes” was even better, and Matt Reeves seems to have really responded to everything that made “Rise” so good, building on that and expanding the world in some big smart ways. Giving Caesar a great ape antagonist in the form of Koba (Toby Kebbell) was smart, but I feel like they didn't really have a great human villain in the film. The character Gary Oldman played was fine, but not a strong enough character to really present any sort of equal to Caesar.
That may change with the news that Woody Harrelson has signed on to play “The Colonel” in 2017's “War For The Planet Of The Apes.” First of all, great title. Second, Harrelson is an excellent choice as a major player in mankind's attempt to hold onto the world as their own. As “Dawn” ended, the military was on their way, and there was footage glimpsed in the trailer for the film, eventually cut before release, that gave a hint of how things might go once the military makes a real stand against Caesar's growing community.
What I'm curious about now is how far they can go with this series. There's no reason they have to wrap everything up any time soon. Fox also doesn't seem desperate to run it into the ground any time soon, either, allowing some time to go by between the movies. 2017 will make it three years since “Dawn,” and that seems like that's just about right. It makes me look forward to seeing the next one as opposed to feeling obligated just to be able to keep up.
We'll see what Harrelson, who is quite adept at bringing real darkness to his work, has to do when the “War For The Planet Of The Apes” arrives in 2017.