The last decade has provided audiences with several trilogies, Planet of the Apes is among the best and War for the Planet of the Apes is the final nail in the coffin. What this trilogy has accomplished is extraordinary and cannot be overlooked. From story to technology director Matt Reeves and star Andy Serkis bring excellence to a revitalized franchise. It’s no secret that when Disney bought Fox all the Fox properties went with it. Among those properties is the Apes franchise. The question is, what will Disney do with this franchise now? Hopefully not a reboot but a continuation of the story That started with Caesar.
It’s intriguing what the options are for this franchise. The bar was set incredibly high starting with Rupert Wyatt’s Rise and only elevated when Matt Reeves stepped in and took the reins. Add to that the outstanding performances using motion capture and the one man that innovated the use of that technology – its hard to picture any kind of failure. War builds upon the greatness that Dawn provides proving this is a franchise that deserves to have stories told beyond what has been seen prior. It’s a profitable franchise that can keep going for decades if it wants to.
The story picks up 2 years after that San Francisco incident enticed by Koba. Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his tribe of super intelligent apes are forced into a war with United States military they don’t want any part of. The leader of the military group known as Alpha-Omega is a ruthless Colonel (Woody Harrelson) who is hell bent on wiping out Caesar and his tribe of Apes. To add salt to the wound, the colonel employs Koba fanatics known as “Donkey’s” to aid in the extinction of Caesar and his family. No matter how many bad humans Caesar and the apes come across, there is always a small group that proves some humans still have good hearts.
What War does pretty well is highlighting the fact that the Simian virus is still a threat to the humans as much as the apes are. Nova (Amiah Miller) is a prime example of that. She is an orphan (thanks to Caesar) that becomes muted due to the virus that has wiped out majority of the humans. Caesar, Maurice (Karin Konoval), Luca (Michael Adamthwaite), and Rocket (Terry Notary) befriend Nova as she is no threat to the apes. Very aware of the world she lives in, Nova is still compassionate toward the apes and doesn’t see them as something to fear. Acting without saying a single word is probably the most difficult thing an actor or actress can do, but Amiah flawlessly conveys every single emotion that Nova feels as she experiences life in a way that’s both cruel and beautiful simultaneously.
War is a visually stunning work of art. The poetic justice in how most intelligent beings can be turned primitive by the virus turning them into the very thing they fear more than the apes takeover of the planet. The cinematography is gorgeous showing off beautiful landscapes. The set design is breathtaking in the contrast with the pink from the blossoming tree to the white snow. The visual effects are some of the best out of this trilogy creating some of the most realistic looking apes we’ve ever seen.
It’s clear that past war films like Full Metal Jacket have inspired this film with the “monkey killer” writing on helmets. The war these this film offers is not just a war for the apes freedom from humans but its Caesar’s war from himself. Since Koba, Caesar has been struggling to find the differences between himself and his one time close advisor turned enemy. In the third act of this film, Caesar comes to the realization that he is just like Koba in holding on to the grudge and hated he has for the Colonel. It’s a disease to Caesar’s mental state that he cannot let go – he must stop the Colonel if it means putting those he loves in jeopardy.
Andy Serkis is brilliant as Caesar. He is one with this character as he embodies his spirit on screen. He brings Caesar to life and humanizes Caesar by the way he thinks, speaks, and reacts to the world around him. Caesar is comparable to Jesus – he’s suffered at the hands of those who don’t understand, he’s misunderstood by humans. Maurice, Luca, and Rocket are his apostles. The only thing Caesar wants is freedom for his family and tribe – he doesn’t want world domination or to enslave humans – he just wants to be free. The apes have found the promise land – far away from the prying eyes of invaders.
One discrepancy about this film is the title. The word War is misleading as the entire globe isn’t against Caesar and his tribe. Its one small group of rogue fanatics that want to exterminate Caesar. It’s more like a battle, but the title doesn’t take anything away at the excellence that Matt Reeves has produced. The addition of Bad Ape (Steve Zahn) couldn’t have worked better. Bad Ape adds the comedic relief to the overly serious tone the film sets. Bad Ape steals every scene he is in while not being overly comedic.
Another thing that gets lost not only in this film but the trilogy is the whereabouts of previous human allies like Malcolm, Ellie, and Alexander from the last installment. Did they leave San Francisco? Are they alive still? They played an important role in Caesar’s life and deserve to be mentioned or remembered in some fashion. Maybe they will be back in the future. The acting is some of the best in this trilogy thanks to the addition of Woody Harrelson. He brings such a fierce presence to his character that is on par with how evil Koba was. With how advanced humans are in this world the remaining survivors are inhumane calling some of the apes “Donkey’s” and spray painting their backs. It’s vile and cruel how some humans can act to assert dominance over animals.
Overall, War for the Planet of the Apes is an excellent finish to an already magnificent trilogy. Caesar’s story is told in such a raw and poetic way that feels it could be our own but way more extreme. Andy Serkis is the star of this franchise having his rendition of Caesar immortalized in cinema history. The run time and pacing are in line with the previous two films. If I were to rate War for the Planet of the Apes; I’d rate it a 4.7 out of 5.
So, tell me guys, have you seen War for the Planet of the Apes and if so, what do you think about it? Do you agree or disagree with me? Comment below or send me an email and let me know what you think.
War for the Planet of the Apes is directed by Matt Reeves is Rated PG-13 and has an 94% on Rotten Tomatoes. War for the Planet of the Apes was released on July 14th, 2017 and has a runtime of 2 hours and 20 minutes. War for the Planet of the Apes can be bought by online retailers such as Itunes, Google, Amazon and Vudu.
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