Should the VFX Oscar Have Gone to War for the Planet of the Apes?

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The 2018 Academy Awards have wrapped up, and the Oscar for Best Visual Effects went to Blade Runner 2049. Although the film from Denis Villeneuve was a worthy winner of the prestigious award, many had expected the accolade to go to War for the Planet of the Apes. The modern reboot and reimagining of the classic movie have incorporated some of the most advanced visual effects available in modern times, to the extent that the apes really come to life. Despite missing out on the Oscar, those who haven’t seen the latest installment of the franchise should definitely check it out.

War for the Planet of the Apes grossed a respectable $490 million worldwide and has an impressive rating of 93 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. The Matt Reeves picture is the third of the Planet of the Apes reboot series and was preceded by Dawn of the Planet of the Apes in 2014 and Rise of the Planet of the Apes in 2011. This franchise has been hugely successful, and the films have brought in a combined total of over $1.6 billion. As with many successful franchises today, such as Tomb Raider, this has spilled over into the world of merchandising and gaming.

With franchise star Andy Serkis providing a motion capture performance for his studio Imaginarium Productions’ 2017 PS4 release, Planet of the Apes: Last Frontier, the ability for movies to cross over into other mediums is gaining real recognition. Even more recently, the Planet of the Apes slot machine from Net Entertainment takes characters, imagery, and themes directly from the trilogy. This serves to give fans of the movies another way to enjoy them and, at the same time, attracts more viewers to the franchise. Developers are now finding that a great way to attract more players is to take facets from hit movies, and slot games based on blockbusters are on the rise.

With the Planet of the Apes franchise doing well on various platforms, it seems a shame that it didn’t pick up the Visual Effects Award at the 90th Academy Awards Ceremony. The general consensus among film critics was that War for the Planet of the Apes was the trilogy’s final shot at being rewarded for their ground-breaking use of special effects. All of the films have been pushing the boundaries of what is possible in film these days, and have helped to create fully believable talking apes along with epic battle scenes.

The VFX team on the Apes trilogy consists of Joe Letteri, Daniel Barrett, Dan Lemmon, and most recently Joel Whilst. Letteri is the director of the VFX company Weta Digital and has won Academy Awards in the past for his work on the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Avatar, King Kong, and The Jungle Book. This makes it all the more surprising that none of the Apes trilogies prevailed.

Aside from War for the Planet of the Apes failing to earn a reward for its VFX, many are disappointed that Andy Serkis hasn’t been recognized for his excellent work as Caesar. Perhaps in years to come, we will look back at these films and give them the plaudits they deserve.

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