Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Writer: David F. Walker
Artist: Jonas Scharf
Cover Artist: Robert Sammelin
Colorist: Jason Worde
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
David F. Walker (Tarzan on the Planet of the Apes) and illustrated by Jonas Scharf (Warlords of Appalachia) present an original story set between 20th Century Fox’s films, 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and the War for the Planet of the Apes film.
As Caesar and his apes recoup and recover after the Koba-led attack on the human compound in San Francisco, the military begins moving in, setting the stage for the momentous war to come. Even as humans and apes come to violent conflict, the virus that wrecked the world has begun to evolve…
No getting around it: 2017 was a slog. But, to get us through the stress of life, at least we could escape for an hour or two into some of the most amazing worlds.
It’s also been an amazing year for the comic book movie and, indeed, all blockbusters. This year the genre really grew up, with complex and challenging fare that deconstructed some of our favorite characters and took them to the next level.
I had a hard time paring it down to just a top 10, so I’m presenting a somewhat more expanded list of things worth seeing and celebrating in 2017. Never before have I had a hair’s breadth separating my top 5, and my top 20 are all worth checking out.
So I’m going to give you the best and then the rest– my top 10 and then the rest of the movies that made my list. Where I reviewed the movie for Graphic Policy, I have also provided a link. To those from before I joined the site or didn’t get a chance to do a full review, oh well. You’ll just have to take my word for it. Oh, and if you care about such things, my bottom 10 list is here.
10. Coco — This is one of Pixar’s best and one of the movies most likely to make me cry. While it has some second act problems, its universal themes of family and remembering are as beautiful as the animation and music here. This is also the first movie in my top 10 with an amazing soundtrack — a common theme among 2017’s best movies.
9. Baby Driver — A musical with car chases. The only problem with this movie is its opening fifteen minutes are so perfect it rarely meets that same level again. This is the movie Edgar Wright did after breaking with Marvel over creative differences about Ant-Man. We are so much the richer for having both of these movies, especially Baby Driver. With career-best performances by some of its cast, it’s a perfect blend of editing, directing, acting, and sound. And it’s just a load of fun.
8. Wonder Woman – Patty Jenkins should be put in charge of the entire DC movie universe. She understands her characters, she understands the gravity and importance they hold for people, and managed to deliver THE iconic moment of 2017 in cinema: the “No Man’s Land” scene.
It’s that moment– when she wears the costume, embraces her powers and her purpose — that we see her origin story in a way rarely ever so fully expressed on screen. Sure, the movie had some problems– a weak villain and a somewhat predictable climax — but it was important in a way few other films in this list were. And it showed that the DCEU could be everything that the Marvel Cinematic Universe could. It’s not only one of the best comic movies of 2017, it’s one of the best of all time.
7. Atomic Blonde — Technically, a comic book movie. And the movie with the best soundtrack of the year, during which we see Charlize Theron kick all sorts of butt. It’s heartfelt, funny, and undeniably cool as they try to out-John-Wick John Wick. Give me more of this, please, perhaps in a shared universe where Charlize and Keanu throw down and then invariably team up.
6. The Shape of Water– What a beautiful film about love among outcasts. The entirety of this film is about noticing the silent people, the forgotten ones, and recognizing the humanity in each of us. Also, sex with fish-people! This is a masterpiece by Guillermo del Toro and worthy of all the nominations and buzz it’s been getting.
5. War for the Planet of the Apes – This is true for basically every other film in my top 5, but this film showed us that effects-driven blockbusters could have intense heart and meaning. It’s unfathomable to me that Gary Oldman will be nominated for acting awards for wearing a fatsuit and portraying Winston Churchill, but Andy Serkis will be snubbed yet again for his creation of an amazingly real character in Caesar. It’s unclear where the Apes franchise goes from here — and writer/director Matt Reeves is setting his sights next on righting The Batman (which makes me all sorts of excited) — but whatever happens, they created an amazing trilogy with a phenomenal third act. Perhaps the only downside is that the social commentary that hits so close for 2017 (humans building a wall as well as other not-so-subtle jabs at Trump) may not age particularly well.
4. Logan – “A man has to be what he is, Joey. Can’t break the mold. I tried it and it didn’t work for me. There’s no living with a killing. There’s no going back from one. Right or wrong, it’s a brand. A brand sticks. There’s no going back. Now you run on home to your mother, and tell her… tell her everything’s all right. And there aren’t any more guns in the valley.” James Mangold gave us a perfect western that just happened to have Wolverine and Professor X in it. And Jackman and Stewart are amazing. Ok, I lied about Coco. THIS is the most likely thing to make me cry in any movie in 2017.
3. (tie) Your Name– Normally I won’t give in to a tie, but since there is some doubt whether or not this is even a 2017 release (I go by date of wide US release, so that puts us in April of 2017), I’ll go for it. Already the #1 animated film of all time in Japan (with good reason), I’m not sure why this hasn’t become more popular in the US. But that’s what year-end lists are for, right? A story of (literal) star-crossed teens in Japan who seem to be switching bodies becomes the most interesting story of identity, love, and wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey time travel ever. It made me cry at least three times. It’s an amazing film and one which would’ve been in my top 3 for 2016 if I’d known of it then. If that disqualifies it from this list, then my #3 spot goes to. . .
3. (tie) Star Wars: The Last Jedi – It’s amazing. You know this. I love it for all the ways it blows open the Star Wars universe into something even bigger and more important. Plus, porgs. It, Logan, and Apes all showed that blockbuster filmmaking could be thoughtful and not just deliver a rehash of the expectations of the franchise. Star Wars is my favorite thing of all time, and this delivers in ways I didn’t know were possible. I’m greatly anticipating both Episodes IX and the new trilogy Rian Johnson will deliver to us.
2. Get Out – Usually a movie will come out early in the year and become a high water mark for me for the year. Then every film I see after I’ll just ask, “Was this better than [Get Out]?” Few movies made it close, but it stands strong at the end of the year as the most important movie of 2017 and only a hair’s breadth off of my #1. This was such an amazing effort from Jordan Peele. It was an atmospheric, psychological thriller and the most biting social commentary of the decade– and exactly what we need to hear in 2017. Unfortunately, the people who most need to see and understand this film never will.
1. Blade Runner 2049 – I’m still not sure why this failed to resonate with audiences. It was supremely beautiful, important, thoughtful—in essence, the opposite of the Spirit of 2017, so I guess it makes sense. It’s shameful to see this getting forgotten in so many year-end lists and awards considerations. If Roger Deakins doesn’t win a cinematography Oscar for this, we have failed as a society.
So, that’s it. Here’s the rest of my list:
11. A Monster Calls — All the tears for this gorgeous and touching film that somehow never caught on.
12. Detroit— If Blade Runner hadn’t flopped at the box office, this is my vote for most underrated movie of 2017.
13. Spider-Man: Homecoming– This was the Spider-Man movie we needed, with John Hughes meets the MCU. Let’s hope Sony and Marvel’s partnership continue to yield such spectacular results.
14. The Big Sick — The best comedy of the year, Kumail Nanjiani’s true story of clashes of cultures and medically induced comas is amazing and worth everyone’s time.
15. Beatriz at Dinner — This should be renamed “Micro-aggressions the Movie” as massage therapist Beatriz (an impeccable and Oscar-worthy Salma Hayek) ends up at a dinner party thrown by one of her high end clients facing off against a Donald-Trump type developer (an equally impeccable Jon Lithgow). It’s amazing and the ending will depress the hell out of you.
16. The Greatest Showman — Hugh Jackman took the money he made from Logan and used it to produce this musical ostensibly about PT Barnum but in reality about the strange and wonderful family among society’s outcasts and “freaks” that make up his circus. If I could put the historical revisionism aside, this would end up in my top 10, but Barnum was a monster. But as a story about putting people of all shapes, colors, and abilities up on screen and seeing them as people? This is tops. Keala Settle, who plays the bearded lady, deserves an Oscar nomination. And this will get multiple nominations for best song, from the people who brought you La La Land last year.
17. Brigsby Bear – What if you were kidnapped as a child and the only media your reclusive parents let you watch was a specially-made-for-you childrens’ program? This film from the mind of SNL’s Kyle Mooney then becomes a unique, innocent look at the pure joy of fandom and sharing something you love with new people and the lengths you’d go to do it. Also featuring a supporting role by Mark Hammil, this is another great little film that flew under the radar but is worth your attention.
18. Thor: Ragnarok— This is Thor’s best movie to date and one of the most fun movies ever in the MCU. Some people complained the movie had “too many jokes,” but making a buddy comedy with superheroes is something that was long overdue and sorely needed late in 2017. Whatever writer/director Taika Waititi is doing next, I’m watching it.
19.The Disaster Artist — The movie that launched a thousand terrible reaction gifs finally gets its Ed Wood treatment. The Room is awful, but somehow James and Dave Franco make us fall in love with it and its mysterious director Tommy Wiseau. For that, and their loving shot for shot recreations of some of the film’s most heinous scenes, this was incredibly fun. It’s also the type of movie Hollywood loves– a movie about making movies.
20.Molly’s Game— A superserving of Sorkin will hit all the right notes for his fans.
21.Okja — If The Disaster Artist is to The Room what Ed Wood is to Plan 9 From Outer Space, then this satire from Bong Joon-ho (thanks to Netflix for making it) is the Dr. Strangelove of global agribusiness and capitalism. It took this movie a while to take off, but when it did, it became intensely satisfying. When it wasn’t skewering the corporation that totally wasn’t Monsanto, it was also just a tender story about a girl and her giant genetically modified pet “super pig.”
22.The Post — Steven Spielberg’s latest is perhaps the most important movie for the turn of 2017 to 2018 about the decision to print the Pentagon Papers by The Washington Post. Buried in the Oscarbait is an important story about the freedom of the press and a rogue White House intent on crushing it. I just wish it was told slightly better and that 80% of the time I wasn’t wishing I were watching All the President’s Men or The Fog of War.
23.The Lego Batman Movie — A movie about family, a movie about feminism, and just the greatest mishmash of toy mayhem ever seen on screen. This was the best Batman we saw on screen all year.
24.Dunkirk— I won’t lie, I had some problems with Dunkirk. Mostly I thought Nolan was spending too much time showing us how clever he was instead of just giving us a good movie. But I can’t deny the artistry and pure filmmaking prowess that went into this. I still think the best way to illuminate my problems is to compare it to Detroit, which I did in my review here.
25.Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 — “I’m Mary Poppins, y’all!” may be one of my favorite moments on screen all year. And then, that ending was just too perfect. This movie had a lot going for it, but the fact that it ended up at #25 is a testament to just how good so many movies were this year.
26.IT— This was everything we needed in the fall of 2017. Funny, smart, and incredibly scary, it also gave us one of the best comedy moments of the year, too, with an SNL skit of Kellyanne Conway as Kellywise the Clown trying to lure Anderson Cooper into the Trump Sewer.
27. John Wick Chapter 2 — Sometimes sequels really deliver, and this was one instance of that. Once again, we get the beautiful ultra-violence of this universe and without all of that boring exposition or deeper meaning. Sometimes you just want to watch the world burn, and for that, there’s always John Wick.
28.Power Rangers — This might surprise people, but I liked the Power Rangers movie far more than it deserved. Never a fan of the original, this still brought me in with it intense heart and third act action sequence that dared you not to smile from ear to ear. Oh, and also Elizabeth Banks as Rita Repulsa was a thing of beauty. Say it with me: “Krispy Kreme.”
29.Wind River — Taylor Sheridan knocks it out of the park again with an amazing script about a murder mystery and the intersection of the oil industry and reservation life. How does one get justice in the face of corporate coverups and mixed jurisdiction? The scene with Jon Berenthal is one of the most gripping and brutal things I saw all year.
30.[tie] It Comes at Night — Speaking of inhumanity and suspense, we get a case study in minimalism of just how much a director can do with basic sets and a basic premise: a plague wipes out most of humanity and one family must make decisions about whether or not to trust strangers to guarantee their survival. The title is misleading and don’t get snookered into thinking anything more supernatural is happening. There’s no monsters. Just death. Just people. And that’s the true horror.
[tie] Ingrid Goes West — Again, I hate ties, but I feel like this provides a great counterpoint to It Comes at Night. Except in this case, the monster that haunts us is social media, stalking, and depression. Aubrey Plaza is perfect as Ingrid, who moves to LA and ends up stalking an “Instagram celebrity” played by Elizabeth Olson to try to find her way into her life. O’Shea Jackson (Jr.) shows up as a Batman-obsessed would-be screenwriter. The final reveal of the film almost feels like the end of a slasher movie when we see the killer supernaturally rises from where we thought we had killed it. Fun and thoughtful.
So, yeah, that’s a lot of movies. To be fair, there were a few I missed, so apologies. But what about you? What did I miss? What did I overrate? What did I underrate?
Let us know, and here’s hoping we have as amazing a 2018 as we did a 2017– at least in movies. And from Black Panther in February to Mary Poppins in December with Avengers: Infinity War, Solo, and Incredibles 2 in between, my expectations are set abnormally and unreasonably high.
Dunkirk won the weekend by opening with $50.5 million. That’s the first non-franchise film to win the weekend this summer and the first since March of this year. That’s a solid performance for the $150 million film that also saw $55.4 million overseas to bring its total to $105.9 million. The film has received solid reviews so expect it to do well from here.
In second place was Girls Trip. With just a $19 million budget, the film brought in $30.4 million. With an “A+” CinemaScore expect the film to do well.
Spider-Man: Homecoming swung lower with a 50% drop in its third week. The film earned $22 million to bring its domestic total to $251.7 million and stands at $571.7 million worldwide.
War for the Planet of the Apes came in fourth after being in first last week. The film earned $20.4 million to bring its domestic total to $97.8 million and $174.9 million worldwide.
Rounding out the top five was Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets which delivered an estimated $17 million. Adapted from a popular European comic series, the film has a $150 million budget (though it might be as high as $209 million). The film received a “B-” CinemaScore and will have to rely on the foreign box office to do well.
In other comic adaptation news…
Wonder Woman came in at #9 with $4.6 million which brings its domestic total to $389 million and $779.4 million worldwide. The film has passed Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 at the domestic box office. That film added $357,000 to its domestic total and stands at $387.3 million domestically and $860 million worldwide.
Next week sees the opening of another comic adaptation Atomic Blonde.
We’ll be back in an hour with a deeper dive into this year’s comic adaptations in film.
It was new comic book day yesterday. What’d folks get? What’d you all enjoy? Sound off in the comments! While we wait for San Diego Comic-Con to kick off, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.
I had predicted it’d be a close weekend at the box office based on good word of mouth over Spider-Man: Homecoming but looks like I was off on that one. By a wide margine, War for the Planet of the Apes won the weekend with an estimated $56.5 million. The film also earned $46 million at the foreign box office for a total of $102.5 million worldwide. That’s not bad for a first weekend with a budget of $150 million. War‘s opening was a million more than Rise of the Planet of the Apes in 2011 and $16 less than 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Luckily War is about $20 million cheaper than Dawn as far as budget.
The film was 57% male and 63% were 25 years or older as well as 48% Caucasian, 20% African American, 18% Hispanic, and 10% Asian. The opening day audience gave the film an “A-” CinemaScore.
Spider-Man: Homecoming in its second week dropped 61% to bring in $45.2 million. It also brought in $72.3 million at the foreign box office. The film stands at $208.3 million domestically and $261.1 million at the foreign box office for a total of $469.4 million.
Despicable Me 3 added $18.9 million to its domestic total to bring it to $188 million but the foreign box office is where it’s at. The film has earned $431.4 million for a total of $619.4 million.
In fourth place was Baby Driver which earned $8.8 million at the domestic box office. Domestically the film has earned $73.2 million and worldwide the film has earned $96.3 million. That’s a win with just a $34 million budget.
Rounding out the top five was The Big Stick which earned $7.6 million domestically and sits at $16.1 million.
In comic movie earnings…
Wonder Woman moved to sixth adding $6.9 million to its domestic total. The film has earned $380.6 million domestically and $384.2 million at the foreign box office for a total of $764.9 million.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was #13 adding $512,000 to its total. The film has earned $386.6 million domestically and $472.5 million at the foreign box office for a total of $859.1 million.
Logan added about $30,000 to its total during the week.
Smurfs: The Lost Village added $400,000 to its total over the past week.
We’ll be back in an hour for a deeper dive into this year’s comic adaptations.
Somebody get Andy Serkis an Oscar, stat. And possibly Woody Harrelson. Then get ready to think deep thoughts about what it means to be human, to feel all the strong feelings you can think of, and to watch one hell of a summer action movie.
War for the Planet of the Apes is one of the few third films in a trilogy that in no way disappoints. It is, in some ways, the best of the three. It’s the strange summer blockbuster that doesn’t skimp on the action but still manages to leave us deeply pondering our own existence.
The new film ends only a few years after the close of the last film. Caesar (Serkis as the masterful CGI-mocap ape creation) is considering leading his people out of their home in the woods north of San Francisco to a new promised land. (They lay on the Moses symbolism pretty heavily). far away from the humans whose soldiers continue to lead attacks against them.
Their leader is The Colonel (Harrelson) whose soldiers form a squad (really more of a cult) called Alpha-Omega. Their attacks on the apes are not without purpose, as we learn (slowly, deliberately) the Colonel’s tragic backstory and why they believe they are fighting for their lives. As part of this, they end up enslaving most of Caesar’s people and force them to build a giant wall around their base, setting up a final act that is mostly a prison break.
There is a battle of wills between Caesar and The Colonel, and an internal ethical struggle they both face on the brink of extinction. How far will I go? To see revenge? To protect my people? They are perfect foils for one another and especially amazing performances given that Harrelson and Serkis are playing off each other with one of them in a mocap suit.
But one of the best parts of the film is one of the new characters– a former zoo chimp who calls himself Bad Ape (Steve Zahn) who dresses in human clothes and adds very needed comic relief to a very otherwise heavy, dense narrative.
And for those who missed the first two films? Everything you need to know is told in a couple of title cards at the opening. You’d be fine walking into this completely unaware of any of the other films — a true rarity for a franchise film such as this.
Perhaps even more spectacular, there are numerous nods, references, homages, and Easter Eggs to the other films in the series. Fans will get payoff in ways the rest of the audience won’t quite grasp, but it never feels like fanservice or like anyone is left out.
In short– it’s the perfect film no matter how familiar you are with the Apes universe.
Speaking of homages, they are almost too numerous to mention. But needless to say that the fact that Harrelson is playing a Colonel should not be lost on anyone, as the second half of the film could basically be described as Colonel Kurtz from Apocalypse Now running the prison camp in The Great Escape. Having mentioned the heavy Moses symbolism, this also draws heavily from both the Old Testament story and The Ten Commandments as there is a definite Charlton Heston vs. Yul Brenner level of gravitas in the interplay between our two lead characters.
There is also a surprising amount of prescient social commentary in the film. The fact that the humans are trying to build a wall should not be lost on anyone and may, perhaps, date the film a little bit. The Colonel plays the best on-screen fascist in a big budget Hollywood film since Domhnall Gleeson yelled at stormtroopers in The Force Awakens. So the commentary hits home, if a bit on the nose.But if you take it as a human instinct to desperately and futilely build walls in order to protect ourselves from forces beyond our control, the commentary lands a little more softly.
But, regardless of politics, it should inspire all of us to consider how desperation and grief lead us to make decisions opposed to our morals.
It bears considering, however, in a world filled with CGI apes that the film still can’t manage to pass the Bechdel Test. One can even bring the claim that female characters are “refrigerator-ed” to provide reason for the male characters to act. This was a trap the second apes film managed to avoid with stellar performances by Judy Greer and Keri Russell that did not transfer over to this final chapter. A lone ray of hope here is the continued stellar work by Karin Konoval as Maurice the orangutan, who continues to act as Caesar’s conscience. While tropey (and it should be mentioned Maurice is apparently canonically male, which is why the film fails Bechdel) her performance here is so excellent that it deserves praise among of cast of apes who all do amazing work. Amiah Miller also puts in a great performance as the mute human Nova, adopted by Caesar. But unfortunately those do nothing for the gender politics of the film. Even in a post-apocalyptic future, both and ape and human society remains rigidly patriarchal. *Sigh*
Oh, and did I mention that are some great action scenes with giant explosions? The film begins with an assault on Caesar’s camp, and ends with a climactic battle between opposing forces. While the Apes franchise is never trying to be The Fast and Furious, there’s enough action in here to be enjoyable.
Some may complain the 142 minute runtime is too long, it’s hard to say what deserved to be cut. A great movie can never be too long, and a bad one can never be over too quickly.
It’s worth noting that director and co-screenwriter Matt Reeves will next tackle Batman, taking over directing duties after Ben Affleck decided starring in and directing the film would be too much. Given Reeves’s work on the Apes film and his study of nuance and character, ability to weave action and dark characterization, The Bat should be in good hands.
It was new comic book day yesterday. What’d folks get? What’d you enjoy? Sound off in the comments below! While you think about that, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.