War for the Planet of the Apes film review
It’s over. The rebooted trilogy that was started back in 2011 has had its end. War for the Planet of the Apes marked the end…. not just to A trilogy, but probably one of THE BEST movie trilogies ever. And frankly I’m a little sad about it.
War for the Planet of the Apes continues the story about 2 years after the events in Dawn. Caesar (Andy Serkis) is now wanted ape. He and his clan in the Muir woods are living in constant danger, especially from The Colonel (Woody Harrelson) the leader of paramilitary organization Alpha-Omega who is obsessed with wiping out Caesar and his tribe. Because of constant treat, Caesar makes plans to relocate the clan across the desert, but after the murder of his wife and son, his mission will be derailed with revenge and retaliation against The Colonel.
War for the Planet of the Apes is another brilliant piece of work from director Matt Reeves. Second best in terms of overall quality (Dawn of the planet of the apes is still the best in my opinion) but outstanding never the less. War is much subdued but dark, gloomy and bleak in not just the tone, but also in the themes. The movie’s only ray of sunshine is the presence of the blond little girl Nova (Amiah Miller) that Caesar, Maurice, Luca and Rocker will eventually find, and Bad Ape (Steve Zahn) an isolated chimpanzee who lived in a zoo before the Simian Flu outbreak.
Bad Ape is also a good source of humor but the prevalent themes here are the further collapse of the humanity (brought on by the mutation of the virus), revenge, hatred, losing empathy and eventual salvation. War is character driven movie, where the apes are dominant in every aspect and the humans unnecessary for the development of the story. You’ll end up hating the humans and rooting for the apes in this movie actually and that’s OK.
Sure there is a lot less action in War, but if you take a good look at it, you’ll see that the movie is more a SF/western camouflaged in a SF/thriller gear. Think of Caesar as cowboy who along with his buddies sets on a journey to revenge his family. You’ll find traces of Biblical themes in his clan’s relocation to the desert (much like Israelites’ journey to the Promised Land led by Moses), and traces of Brando’s Kurtz in Caesar’s arch nemesis The Colonel.
Blinded by extremism, paranoia and disgust towards the apes, The Colonel’s mannerisms, and style (especially when standing half naked on balcony) are even reminiscent of that of Schindler’s list’s Amon Goth if you think about it… But there is no denying of how brilliant are Woody and Andy Serkis in their roles. War is another reminder of the immense talent that Serkis portrays in his motion capture roles, and especially in the role of Caesar.
Here we see Caesar’s struggles with his morality, with his duty to help his clan, with the memories of Koba’s terrible legacy and with the revenge that is taking over his body. The Colonel on the other hand truly is menacing and frightening character but in him you can see traces even of Trump’s ideology in his actions (especially in the building of the wall). A separatist turn into extremist, The Colonel is a man of strong will, stamina and personal traumas, and Harrelson transcends his convictions in this fine performance. However I’m less pleased with the development of the only human character that was worth developing here. The apes make the central story-line in the third part, but there is something very underwhelming and lacking in the way The Colonel was developed until his end.
War for the Planet of the Apes is just shy of being the perfect movie. It’s probably one of the best movies of the year, and second best in the rebooted trilogy. Led by the smooth and crisp direction by Reeves, outstanding cinematography from Michael Seresin and stunning performances from both Serkis and Harrelson, War is a conclusion of an epic tale about revenge during the total destruction of humanity.