Melbourne, August, 18th, 2017 (Peter Malone). Below, find the second part of film critics written by Peter Malone for the month of August.

  • LOST CITY OF A, The
  • MAUDIE
  • PARIS CAN WAIT
  • SPACE BETWEEN, The
  • TIME OF THEIR LIVES, The
  • TRIP TO SPAIN, The
  • VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS
  • WALL, The
  • WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES

THE LOST CITY OF Z

US, 2017, 140 minutes, Colour.
Charlie Hunnam, Robert Pattinson, Sienna Miller, Tom Holland, Angus Mc Fadyen, Franco Nero.
Directed by James Gray.
In terms of marketing, Lost City of Z, may not be so successful for promoting the film. On the one hand, the title sounds very much like a blockbuster adventure, even fantasy. On the other hand, it is a reference to exploration expeditions to Bolivia and the search for a city lost in the jungles of Amazonia. Which means, it is a rather more serious historical film.

The director is James Gray, much better known for small-scale American stories, with criminals in Little Odessa, of relationships in Two Lovers or reminiscence about people arriving in America, The immigrant. He has written a screenplay and directed, recreating Ireland and England in the first part of the 20th century, action in Amazonia, the jungle, the rivers, falls, animals – and the continued threat of the spear-throwing inhabitants.

The film opens in Ireland in 1905, the gentry assembled Hunt, helped by the military, especially with the lieutenant, Percy Fawcett, played very seriously by Charlie Hunnam. It is he chases and kills the stag but is unacceptable to society because of his father’s disreputable reputation. He is deprived of medals and promotion, returning home to England with strong-minded wife, Nina (Sienna Miller).

It is quite a surprise for Fawcett when he is invited by the Royal Geographical Society to lead an expedition to Amazonia, the area between Brazil and Bolivia, to determine the borders because of rubber barons and their clashes. Fawcett was an excellent cartographer in his study days. The expedition will last at least two years.

The film highlights the distance between England and Bolivia, the liner in the Atlantic, train travel in Bolivia, slow riding by horse, walking. The adventurers are surprised to find a city in the jungle with its own opera company performing (for film buffs, echoes of Hertzog’s Fitzcaraldo). As they go into the jungle, Fawcett is accompanied by a journalist who becomes his friend, Costin (Robert Pattinson) as well as a military attache, a local Indian guide and various carriers. As expected, things are not easy in the jungle, snakes, piranha in the river, hunger – and the shooting of a boar when they are desperate for provisions. There are also dangerous encounters with the local Indians as well as making friends with them, and hearing of the possibilities of cities covered over by jungle. Fawcett uses the term Lost City of Z, which, if found, would contribute to the ethnographic understanding of the world.

Fawcett is welcomed on his return but is eager to go again, giving talks to the Royal Geographical Society, mocked by some of the members about his theories, others being enthused and offering to accompany him. His wife would like to accompany him, stressing her capabilities and those of women, but Fawcett is rather old-fashioned in his expectations of what women can and cannot do. She remains at home over the years and they have three children.

The second expedition achieves some things but, an encounter with a cannibal group, one of their benefactors, Murray (Angus Mc Fadyen) is cowardly, is sent off with provisions after his capsizing their boat – and, when Fawcett goes again to the Society, Murray is there to denounce him and demand an apology.

World War I intervenes and Fawcett goes to the trenches, quite graphically pictured here, showing heroism and being blinded by chlorine gas and repatriated.

Five years pass, his oldest son Jack (Tom Holland) who had regretted his father’s absence and influence on his family has become something of a hunter and proposes that they are going in to Amazonia, raising American finance which is met by British finance. And the Society acknowledges Fawcett’s work in awarding him its highest medal.

Fawcett and his son disappear – and the film speculates about their being taken by local Indians who respect them but lead them to their deaths. There is a postscript to say that in the early 20th century, there have been some discoveries of Amazonian cities (and a reminder that Machu Picchu was discovered in the early 20th century in Peru).

 

MAUDIE

Canada/ Ireland, 2017, 117 minutes, Colour.
Sally Hawkins, Ethan Hawke, Gabrielle Rose.
Directed by Aisling Walsh.


Maudie is a portrait of a painter from Nova Scotia, Maudie Lewis. It is based on a true story.

Some commentators have noted that the screenplay simplifies Maudie Lewis’s life, that she had painted early in life, that she had some sales earlier than is shown in the film. She was also a very small woman, suffering severely from rheumatoid arthritis and disfigured spine.

Nevertheless, Sally Hawkins shines as Maudie. A versatile actress, Sally Hawkins made quite an impact in her award-winning performance in Mike Leigh’s Happy Go Lucky. Despite her illness and her hard and harsh life, Maudie emerges so often as happy-go-lucky.

Suffering severely from her childhood, Maudie is offloaded on her maiden aunt, Ida (Gabrielle Rose) by her brother sells the family house against her knowledge and will. I had it is something of a severe woman who resents having to support Maudie, makes her life extremely restrictive, humiliating her.

An opportunity arises when Maudie goes shopping season is a notice in the store from a local fisherman-fishmonger, Everett Lewis, played quite intensely and somewhat savagely by Ethan Hawke for help in his house. Maudie answers the notice and walks to his house, not an easy interview, but she perseveres and stays and Everett giving some begrudging consent to her presence, as long as she keeps the house clean and. He tells her that the priority in the house is: me, the dog, the chickens, you.

When Maudie finds some paint, she starts to do pictures on the wall of the house, simple flowers, cats, landscapes. Again Everett is rather begrudging, wanting some wall space without pictures. It is when a woman visiting from New York City calls to the house about the delivery of fish and discovers Maudie’s paintings, buys one, continues to affirm Maudie and promotes her paintings in the US and through the media, comes different for Maudie.

To Everett’s bewilderment, visitors come to the house, buying Maudie’s paintings and, especially, the greeting cards, and giving commissions.

There is an emotional development at the end of the film concerning the baby that Maudie had borne when very young and the verdict that it was not healthy. Sad moments for Maudie – but, as the film shows, despite her own illness and disabilities, despite her sufferings, she was a woman of strong spirit and achievement.

 

PARIS CAN WAIT

US, 2016, 93 minutes, Colour.

Diane Lane, Arnaud Viard, Alec Baldwin.

Directed by Eleanor Coppola.

If you ever wanted to travel through the south of France, from Cannes, through some of the small towns, through Lyon to Paris, then this might be the film to see for the time being. And, if this part of the world is familiar, audiences will probably want to revisit.

This is a very leisurely film. The central character, Anne had intended to fly from the Riviera to Paris but has an ear infection and accepts the offer of a lift from a friend of her husband, both being film producers.

In fact, this film is so leisurely that one of the reviewers was champing at his bit throughout the whole film, urging them to get a move on, stop the delays – and agreed that he would have preferred the film to have them get in the car in Cannes and do an edit cut for their immediate arrival in Paris! But, look what he would have missed.

Diane Lane is always an attractive screen presence and this is her film. In her past, she has appeared in four films directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Paris Can Wait is directed by Coppola’s wife, Eleanor, who has made documentaries and accompanied her husband as support and photographer during his 1970s filming of Apocalypse Now in the Philippines. The production notes advise that Eleanor Coppola experienced a similar situation and did go for the drive from Cannes to Paris. And, Diane Lane’s Anne is a photographer and would have liked to have had photography as a career.

There is a narrative, but, keeping the French tone, it is soufflé-light. And, it is the perennial French/ American theme of French sophistication and sense of superiority over the very uncultured and up-front about it, Americans. The French stance is embodied in Jacques (Arnaud Viard), the rather happy-go-lucky producer, bad driver in his old car, and flirting unashamedly with Anne.

Anne has been married for 22 years to Michael, a busy, very busy, film producer, who has to go to Budapest and then phones to say that he has to go to Morocco where a very talented but impossible director is hugely overbudget. He is played by Alec Baldwin. We see this pressure on Anne right from the beginning as they prepare for the trip and he is continually getting calls. They do love each other but, for Anne, there is a fair amount of exasperation. She does enjoy the trip, is certainly very wise to Jacques’s preoccupation with her, and it all makes her think a bit more deeply about her relationship with Michael and also her daughter who is at college.

On the one hand, there is plenty, plenty of scenery, the countryside, rivers and lakes, as well as the towns and some Roman ruins including the aqueduct. That may be enough for some audiences but, this is also a film about food, French food, beautifully cooked, information about the ingredients, elegantly served – and always in the best hotels and restaurants. With dinners and lunches like this, obviously Paris can wait.

At a midday screening, there are quite a number in the audience, older than they used to be, but really enjoying this reverie in France.

 

THE SPACE BETWEEN

Australia/Italy, 2016, 105 minutes, Colour.

Flavio Parenti, Maeve Dermody.

Directed by Ruth Borgobello.

This is a film for middle-aged audiences and older who enjoy something of a light and unusual romance film.

The film is an Australian-Italian production, with Australian finance and production support and an Australian star, Maeve Dermody. However, it also has a great deal of Italian finance, an Italian cast led by Flavio Parenti and Italian settings which are very attractive – and could entice audiences to visit north-eastern Italy, and the city of Udine and its surroundings.

The film opens with a quotation from the poet Rilke – suggestions of deeper meanings of love and relationships, and people’s place in the universe. The Rilke theme continues with one of the central characters carrying around the poems that Rilke wrote and the screenplay taking the central characters and the audience to a coastal and cliff walk, the locations where he conceived the poems.

This is the story of Marco, Flavio Parenti, who grew up in Udine, training to be a chef, moving to New York City where he had jobs which he liked but, his mother had some strokes and he returned home and has stayed in the town to care for his father. His father is laconic, as his son says, preferring watching television rather than have conversation. He also now has a dreary job at the same factory where his father worked, being retrenched and then re-hired. He has a close friend, Claudio, who runs a bookshop and does some catering which Marco enjoys helping with.

Then tragedy strikes and there is a space between ordinary life and resuming life, living through grief which affects Marco deeply.

He encounters Olivia, Maeve Dermody, who lives in Melbourne but has come back to the home of her ancestors to sort out property matters and visit cousins. In many ways it is a chance encounter but each is attracted to the other, Marco helping Olivia, going on outings, including the Rilke walk, with her.

And here a complication arises which leads to the possibilities of a different kind of space between…

Marco, while concerned about his father, is being headhunted to work in restaurants in Melbourne. He is at first reluctant but agrees to sign a contract and go to Australia.

And, while his falling in love with Olivia, he persuade her to pursue her desires to be a furniture designer rather than the quite successful banker she gives. She wins an internship which would require her to stay in Italy.

This is one of those films where we can’t even say spoiler alert – the ending is left for the characters to make decisions, for the audience to observe them, have an emotional response to what they want to do and leaving the cinema trying to predict what might happen.

 

THE TIME OF THEIR LIVES

UK, 2017, 102 minutes, Colour.

Joan Collins, Pauline Collins, Franco Nero, Ronald Pickup, Joely Richardson.

Directed by Roger Goldby.

The Time of their Lives sounds a particularly jaunty title. And, for much of the film, this is quite accurate. But not quite accurate enough – the screenplay often goes beneath the surface of the time of their lives to some very serious personal themes. Which makes this comedy-drama that much more interesting.

The naming of the stars is certainly most arresting. Joan Collins has been in films for almost 65 years and made this film at the age of 83 (though, probably, her character, Helen, is meant to be only 73 – and she does get away with it). Whether the public knows the real Joan Collins is a good question. What the public does see is Joan Collins, the celebrity, full of glamour, fond of posing, not the least bit shy with people let alone in front of the camera, drawing on her career as a starlet in the 1950s (and this film has a poster of a fictitious film, Morty and Me, made in that long ago time, the poster reminding us of how glamorous Joan Collins was in her past), and drawing on her particular “bitchiness” from her character, Alexis, in Dynasty. She plays this character here to the hilt – and beyond!

Which means that the name of Pauline Collins evokes quite a different image. At the time of making the film, Pauline Collins was only 76 – but not quite looking it either. She is most famous for her Oscar-nominated performance as Shirley Valentine in 1989. She won a lot of fans with this role and is probably remembered warmly for it.

The other older stars are Franco Nero, one of the heartthrob Italian stars of the 1960s, continuing into the present. The other is Ronald Pickup who audiences will remember from the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel films. Also in the cast is Joely Richardson, Vanessa Redgrave’s daughter (in fact, Vanessa Redgrave is married to Franco Nero though he has no scenes with his stepdaughter).

And the plot? The core of it is a variation on Joan Collins’s life and career, an ageing but faded star (that is the fiction part for the real Joan Collins), little-known now and wanting to revive her career, especially by going to the funeral in France of the director of her most famous film. But she has no money and she is somewhat disabled, hip difficulties, a walking stick. (And there is nothing like seeing Joan Collins with a walking stick but, when the plot is on her side, able to get rid of the stick and walk steadily!).

She is on a jaunt to the seaside with a busload of elderly characters, one of whom is desperate to drive the bus – and does get the opportunity in a hurdy-gurdy kind of way. They have a concentration camp kind of travel director. In the meantime, Priscilla, Pauline Collins, is having a very difficult time with her cranky husband, Frank (Pickup) and the memories of their son who drowned at the age of four men and who would be now 40. Helen notices them bickering at the store. But then Priscilla helps Helen onto the bus with her disability and the door shuts and she is whisked off to the seaside.

Helen tells her story, they have tea together, Helen steals her purse – with Priscilla wanting to go home but then in pursuit, deciding to go with the flow, going into performance to get onto the ferry for France (Helen pretending to faint, Priscilla scurrying on).

The rest of the film has their adventures in France, including Priscilla diving into the water to save a little boy and reprimanding the boy’s mother for not paying attention. Frank and their daughter see Priscilla on television and start out for France.

Stranded at night without petrol, they are rescued by a wealthy man, Alberto (Franco Nero,) driving in pyjamas. He is hospitality personified, Priscilla grateful, Helen flirting, to little avail.

The funeral does not go as predicted though there is a plot development which the audience might have suspected at some stage.

So, the two women do have something of the time of their lives – but not quite. What is Helen to do if she does not revitalise her career? What is Priscilla to do, go back home with Frank to a dead marriage, or…? (Audiences have probably been thinking of the plot of Shirley Valentine all the way through and how Priscilla’s adventures and predicament are a new version of Shirley’s!)

 

THE TRIP TO SPAIN   

UK, 2017, 115 minutes, Colour.

Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon.

Directed by Michael Winterbottom.

Fans of the television series, The Trip, as well as the film version which took audiences with Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon travelling around England and Scotland - and as well, their extended trip to Italy - will probably welcome The Trip to Spain. And they won’t be disappointed.

Part of the puzzle always is that the two actors use their real names and there are references to their actual careers, discussions about Coogan as Alan Partridge and, his wanting to talk about his writing success, Oscar-nomination with the film, Philomena, and his recounting the anecdote of his introducing the actual Philomena to Pope Benedict the XVI (which he actually did). There is a fair amount of slinging off at his films and his career in America. Rob Brydon is far more congenial as audiences know from his television appearances and series.

The trouble is that they also create fictitious characters while using their own names. Rob Brydon has a wife here and three children with some cheery domestic scenes and a welcome home after his trip. On the other hand, Steve Coogan has had various liaisons and his contact with two of the women by phone during the trip and has a fictitious son, aged 20, who is to join them at the end of the trip but is delayed because his 19-year-old girlfriend is pregnant. Much slinging off at Coogan as a potential grandfather at 50!

The arrangement is that Coogan wants to travel to Spain in the footsteps of writer, Laurie Lee, 30 years earlier, visiting the same places, similar and alternate experiences. Rob Brydon is commissioned to write reviews of restaurants around Spain. That is the formula of the past – and it continues successfully into the present.

Audiences who enjoy travelogues will certainly like the visit to Spain, to different places, not necessarily all the expected destinations. The travellers have a week, and go to a different restaurant each day, having a leisurely and gourmet time, meeting owners, service staff, cooks, relishing a great number of meals which food film fans might well be envious of.

There is also a lot of Spanish history, associated with the towns, memories of the Spanish Civil War, the massacre of Guernica, comments on Franco and fascism. We go back into the Renaissance with Catholic monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella, the expulsion of the Jews, the conflict with the Moors and quite a deal on Moorish history and culture in Spain and in Europe prior to the Middle Ages. They visit the tombs of Ferdinand and Isabella as well as a room where Marlon Brando filmed a scene for the 1992 film, Christopher Columbus, performing as Torquemada, the inquisitor.

Yes, for those wondering whether there are impersonations, so enjoyable in the previous films, there are quite a number, some of them very extensive. Probably Roger Moore dominates, with imitations of James Bond and James Bond movies, but Rob Brydon doing an extended imitation of Roger Moore as Coogan explains to visitors the history of the Moors in Spain and their culture, Brydon pretending that Roger Moore identifies with all of this, commenting to his mother and father, claiming all the credit for the Moore family for the Moors – though eventually, Coogan refers to Muslims and Brydon indignantly says his name is Roger Moore not Roger Muslim!

There is Michael Caine again, both of them so accurate. Steve Coogan does John Hurt. Both of them do Mick Jagger. They also do Sean Connery and have a go at Marlon Brando mumbling as Torquemada. There is an amusing scene where Rob Bryden pretends he is on the rack being interrogated and tortured by the Inquisition.

So, all in all, the actors and director Michael Winterbottom keeping to the formula – but, why not? It’s what the fans want – and we are already wondering about the destination for the next trip!.

 

VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS

France, 2017, 137 minutes, Colour.

Dane De Haan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen, Rihanna, Ethan Hawke, Herbie Hancock, Kris Wu, Sam Spruell, Rutger Hauer.

Directed by Luc Besson.

Quite a title. This film was based on a series of comics from the 1960s, French comic books, stories of the future and space named after the two central characters Valerian and Laureline.

The writer-director is the Frenchman, Luc Besson, who has made a range of films dating back to the 1980s, a number of successful thrillers like Subway, Point of No Return, and his classic gangster film, Leon. While he made a film about Joan of Arc, The Messenger in 1999, his work in more recent years has been to direct and, especially, to produce, a whole range of hard-boiled action films like the Transporter series.

But, he is very popular, with his science-fiction film of the 1990s with Bruce Willis, The Fifth Element. In fact, this film is enjoying re-release to accompany Valerian.

It is difficult to determine just who is the intended audience for Valerian. There is plenty to entertain younger audiences but might be a bit too much for a children’s audience. On the other hand, the two central characters seem particularly young, Dane DeHaan as Valerian (30 in real life but looking much younger) and actress-model, Cara Delevingne.

The film has a certain French sensibility which may be appeal more to the European audience than English-speaking language audience (although the film is in English).

To set the tone: the film introduces space exploration in 1975, widening the screen to show developments by 2020, then going to the future, the development of space stations, settling of the galaxies, and all the time peace agreements between all the races, all represented in handshake encounters, courtesy encounters, races as well as different religions – and, then more improbably but in futuristic fantasy style, a whole range of strange creatures (reminiscent of those found in Star Wars galaxies). And finally, there is a speech by the world leader, a cameo by Rutger Hauer, willing peace and goodwill for the future of the universe.

And, for some moments, we see an extraordinarily placid planet, strange hand-drawn characters who resemble humans, their peaceful society, their harvesting pearls from strange transformer creatures, getting energy for their survival – when, suddenly, bombs and explosives start to fall and the creatures hiding in bewilderment, one Princess unable to get into the secure area and who has to take possession of some other body and soul to survive.

Actually, there is no peace in the galaxies. There is a huge floating city, the city of 1000 planets, with military chiefs, commanders – and special government agents, which is where Valerian and Laureline come in, young tough, expert agents, banter between them, his male superiority, more than a touch of romance but her despising his playlist of girlfriends.

They go into action, quite effective, trying to sabotage a meeting where one of the strange creatures is doing deals about pearls with two of the earlier survivors by the peaceful planet in disguise. The point is in getting the transformers who are able to generate the pearls and energy.

Needless to say Valerian and Laureline are very successful – but not all the time. They are contacted by one of the government ministers by hologram and sent on missions. They have interviews with the commander (Clive Owen) who seems just a bit sinister and proves himself so.

Then, something like an intermission, Valerian goes rather sleazy part of town, full of clubbers, and finds himself approached by Jolly the Pimp, played by Ethan Hawke in manic overdrive, and Valerian and the audience spend some time watching an elaborate performance by Rihanna, gymnastics, contortions, dance, transforming into different characters. After this interlude, the action gets going again, Rihanna helping Valerian and Laureline to escape some pursuers.

All this is seen in a variety of sometimes spectacular contexts, special design, always something to delight the eye.

So, by the end of the film, the audience is ready for some action, split-second timing, betrayals of trust, declarations of love, hopes for a happy future.

 

THE WALL

US, 2017, 88 minutes, Colour.

Aaron Taylor Johnson, John Cena, Laith Nakli.

Directed by Doug Liman.

To describe The Wall as a war film does not quite do it justice. It is, but it is not an action show that many audiences were expecting.

The date is 2007. Information is given that the war in Iraq is winding down, that George Bush had declared victory. An explanation is given that outside companies have been brought in to reconstruct Iraq but that they are set upon and personnel and security killed by insurgents, with the need for the American military to remain present in the country.

The film is of interest with the 2017 perspective on 2007 given the subsequent history of Iraq, conflict in Middle Eastern countries.

The film has a very short running time, 88 minutes. It has two American soldiers as characters and one insurgent sniper who is not seen but whose voice is heard.

The film action takes place over two days, the two Americans with camouflage in scrub in the desert, observing the aftermath of a massacre of security and working personnel, the bodies still lying in the sun, the vehicles abandoned. We know practically nothing about the two Americans – although, the central character, Isaac (Aaron Taylor Johnson) does have some moments in a verbal flashback which has its tragic revelations and consequences.

The two Americans compare notes, one deciding to go out and check what has happened – with dire results.

The Wall of the title has been built of local bricks, part of it has been demolished by gunfire, and the rest is in a fairly dilapidated state, yet providing some shelter for Isaac, though a target for further demolition by the unseen but heard Juba, who fires at the wall making it more difficult for Isaac to shelter.

Isaac is stranded, night and another day, Isaac trying to use his wits to survive, trying to communicate to headquarters but finding that Juba is on the other end of the line, leading to interactions, discussions, taunts, psychological pressure, and quotations from Edgar Alan Poe.

In watching the film, the audience, uncertain as to how it will eventuate, on side with the stranded American, wondering whether there will be a final charge by the cavalry to rescue him, it is something of an endurance despite its short running time.

The audience will leave the theatre in something of a grim mood, much more conscious in 2017 of the complexities of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the lack of traditional warfare as might be remembered or is in the movies from World War II, questioning the involvement of American overseas troops and yet the continued puzzles of how situations can be bettered.

 

WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES

US, 2017, 140 minutes, Colour.

Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn, Karin Konoval, Amiah Miller, Toby Kebbel, Gabriel Chavarria, Judy Greer.

Directed by Matt Reeves.

This third film in the recent trilogy of the Planet of the Apes received very strong critical affirmation. It has also done well at the box office. However, it has not pleased and myriad of fans who had been expecting a bellicose version of the war between the apes of the humans. They did not appreciate the amount of focus on the small group of apes led by Caesar, on the small group of humans led by The Colonel, and the limited amount of warfare at the end of the film, helicopter invasion, explosions. And, to cap it all, there is an extraordinary avalanche sequence.

It is amazing to think that the Planet of the Apes has been part of our consciousness since 1967, ever since, at the end of the first film, Charlton Heston came onto the beach and saw the toppled head, in ruins, of the Statue of Liberty. This film had for sequels: Battle for, beneath, escape from, conquest of… as well is television series The franchise was rebooted, as they say, in 2001 by Tim Burton but it did not have the impact of the original.

So, it was rather daring to begin a new trilogy in 2011 with The Rise…, conflict between humans and apes, the education of the leader of the apes, Caesar, and his ability to speak, and his leadership against the exploitative humans. This episode was so successful that Caesar led the apes against the humans in The Dawn… which also featured the rogue ape, Koba, and fierce battles.

In this film, Caesar is still the leader. And he is played by Andy Serkis, expert in this kind of performance after his Gollum in the Lord of the Rings series as well as Peter Jackson’s King Kong. Caesar can speak, but communicates with his fellow apes by sounds and sign language. He is roaming the forest with a loyal group, especially Maurice, a sympathetic and emotional ape.

They encounter some humans, are in conflict, but send the survivors back to the ruthless Colonel in the human headquarters. The colonel is played by Woody Harrelson reminding audiences of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and its film version, Apocalypse Now. He is in charge of a rebel group, in conflict with the apes, confining prisoners to a kind of concentration camp and hard labour without food and water.

During the winter, Caesar and his band wanders the mountains and snow, finding a mute girl and taking her with them, also encountering a comic ape, Bad Ape, who grew up in a zoo but is able to lead the small band to find the human headquarters.

The film sometimes takes its time, especially in the confrontation/interview sequence between Caesar and The colonel, explanations of Caesar’s attitude towards the humans, the loss of his son, the battles and the rebellion of Koba, and The Colonel explaining the deterioration of the humans infected with an illness which deprives them of speech and their faculties – which the Colonel exterminates by killing.

Delicacy is not exactly the word one expects in connection with the Planet of the Apes, but there is much human delicacy in the feelings of both apes and humans, highlighted by the variety in the musical score, especially delicate notes from the piano accompaniment.

Caesar is a charismatic leader but is also consumed by his hatred of the humans – which leads us to wonder where the next film in the series could go.