Verdict: A final showdown between humans and apes.
Almost seven years ago, we saw a young Caesar acquire the ability to speak in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes showed the apes uniting under Caesar, whose aim was to coexist with humans. Only Koba resisted, as he could not forgive the humans for what had been done to him, and went on on an aggressive revenge spree. Although Koba is long dead, his actions led to a more violent path that culminated into War for the Planet of the Apes.
War for the Planet of the Apes is the ultimate battle between apes and humans to remain on the top of the food chain. The same Simian Flu that wiped out humans made the apes smarter, but humans refuse to go down without a fight. Led by a fearsome Colonel (Woody Harrelson), an army of humans seeks out the hidden base of Caesar, so they can finish off the apes once and for all. But it’s not a clear division of lines in this interspecies war. Some apes have defected to help out the humans and kill their own kind. Called a derogatory name – Donkey – they side with the enemy and show that not all the apes blindly follow Caesar, for better or for worse.
Caesar is not one for war, but his attempts at peacekeeping no longer work. He only fights to protect the apes, but that changes when the deaths of his loved ones make him vengeful. He tries to ensure the safety of his tribe by sending them on a journey to a distant land, while he goes after Colonel on a personal revenge mission, much like Koba. But Caesar is not alone. He is accompanied by his friend Rocket (Terry Notary), the wise Maurice (Karin Konoval), and the loyal Luca (Michael Adamthwaite). Along the way, they come across a mute human girl, Nova (Amiah Miller), who tags along in their journey. They also meet someone who provides the singular point of comic relief – zoo escapee Bad Ape (Steve Zahn) – who learned to talk on his own and is unlike any member of Caesar’s tribe.
The apes are more fleshed out than any human characters. Even the Colonel remains nameless while we meet the diverse cast of apes. The Colonel is ruthless and smart, but he is overshadowed by Caesar, who dominates every frame with words and emotions.
Apes have evolved, and so has the technology. Motion-capture technology has also come a long way since the Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and this movie is a brilliant showcase of it. There are close-up shots of apes with hyper-realistic details in their faces, which are expressive as any human’s. Andy Serkis is unparalleled in his performance as Caesar. It’s always been about him, and this time he gets the screen time to show his importance to the survival of the apes.
Although there isn’t a war set up in a battlefield with both sides rushing in to kill the other, there is plenty of action in the movie. But War for the Planet of the Apes goes beyond mindless violence – there are tough decisions to be made every step of the way. It is thoughtful, much in line with the previous movies in the reboot franchise. Director Matt Reeves does not monkey around when it comes to dealing with seriousness. He shows a brutal side of humanity that will make you side with the simians. It all leads to the inevitable end that has been three movies in the making – the war is over and humans have given way to a planet of the apes.
Why You Should Watch:
If you’ve been following the journey of Caesar, War for the Planet of the Apes provides an unmissable conclusion to the Caesar trilogy. And for those unfamiliar with the intelligent simians, War for the Planet of the Apes still manages to provide a moving experience in this technical masterpiece.