This post contains major spoilers for War for the Planet of the Apes.
They don't make franchises like they used to, said this millennial who just turned into a grandpa.
OK, but seriously, it's true. Just a decade ago, Lana and Lily Wachowski's Matrix movies, Sam Raimi's Spider-Man, Christopher Nolan's Batman reboot could conclude in a solid three-picture arc. The "trilogy" is a bygone notion based on character motivation and audience tolerance -- at a certain point, even our favorite heroes had to check out. Today the franchise is everlasting thanks to inter-connected worlds and undeniable box office receipts. Sure, the Guardians of the Galaxy series as we know it could wrap up by the time Vol. 3 hits theaters in 2020, but there's always a chance they'll creep back up in an Avengers team-up, crossover with Thor or wield comic book logic to reignite the series with new stars and new adventures. Michael Bay's maligned Transformers movies just petered out with this summer's fifth installment, The Last Knight, but producers insist there's still enough story to grant Bumblebee his own standalone in 2018. The trilogy is a little too tidy for modern Hollywood.
Which makes the latest Planet of the Apes series all the more miraculous. Sold as an origin story prequel to the original 1968 film, which saw Charlton Heston's astronaut George Taylor crashland on a planet of humanoid apes, only to discover this was his homeworld, Earth, eons into the future, 2011's Rise of the Planet of the Apes sidestepped the action bravado of most reboots to focus on a adolescent Caesar, future leader of the apes, and the special-effects technology that could make him a living, breathing soul (and even more "human" than his costar, James Franco). Rise positioned humans as the major threat to the planet, escalating abuse against highly intelligent animals to a breakout rampage across the Golden Gate Bridge. The film dovetailed into Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, a war movie that saw Caesar ascend to the position of peacekeeping leader, and make moral decisions that would affect both man and ape. Throughout both pictures, nuanced spectacle, where a glimmer in an ape's high or the tics of his first steps towards vocal articulation were as riveting as tank-on-tank battle, focused attention on our hero, and his march towards destiny.