War for the Planet of the Apes directed by Matt Reeves is third movie in the modern Planet of the Apes reboot series. I haven’t really watched most of the old Planet of the Apes aside from the original one from the 60’s, but I have followed and loved this recent run of films and War is no different. The incredible visuals are some of the best I’ve ever seen but it’s not just the CGI that creates the feeling you are watching talking apes on screen. The story, acting, dialogue and the characters are all written and done so well and multilayered that you can’t help but be sucked in.
War for the Planet of the Apes starts five years after the end of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes with the war raging between the humans and the apes. Caesar and his clan are trying to find a safe place for the apes to live in peace away from the humans while being hunted by them. I was surprised that this movie did not play out anything like how I thought it would based on the title and the trailers. This movie was more about the internal struggles of both sides rather than an actual war in the traditional sense. Caesar dealing with the hate of humans consuming him like it did with Koba from Rise and Dawn and doubting whether his ideals of trying to coexist with humans was right. The entire movie is much more of an ideological and philosophical struggle of what it means to be human than it was an actual physical battle and I actually I enjoyed this direction it went in. The Planet of the Apes movies are all filled with a good deal of social commentary and War is no different in this regard.
Persoanlly, I was so sucked into this movie right from the start. The characters are faced with constant conflict and unknown situations which creates so much suspense and tension for the audience. It goes from one scene to the next without really getting too many breaks along with so many problems stacked on to our characters you as the viewer really start to wonder how our heroes survive. Speaking of heroes, it’s definitely weird that you sympathize with the apes more than you do with the humans. However, it does a good job of balancing sympathy for both the protagonist and the antagonist by showing what their motivations and fears are; they’re both completely understandable and relatable. The ending seemed a bit rushed though it was just sort of resolved in a simplistic way in a very Deus Ex Machina way like they just didn’t know how to tie up all the loose ends and decided to just decide to in a way wipe everything away.
Finally I have to mention that Andy Serkis is the king of motion capture performances. His work as Caesar is incredible and is a big part in why I believe that I’m watching a super intelligent talking ape. Not only that but just how much emotion comes across in just the face you can truly see the deep seated dilemma that he’s experiencing just looking at his eyes. Woody Harrelson gave a great performance as the Colonel but I feel like he was a bit miscast for this role. I feel like he was too charming and normal to play this character the way it was written. I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to feel when I saw this character. I also wanted to give a mention to the character Bad Ape when he was introduced it injected the perfect amount of positivity and levity into the film that it needed because this movie is for the most part very intense and grim. Whenever Bad Ape makes an appearance though I loved it, he was the right amount of humor put into the movie to add a dash of light heart.
War for the Planet of the Apes is a great movie that brings a lot of ideas that make you the audience think about the dynamics of society, racism, and what it means to be human. Paired with compelling action and tense story telling this makes for one of the more intense and fun movie going experiences. War provides a nice conclusion to Caesar’s story bringing him the conclusion he deserves, although it doesn’t seem like this is the end for the Planet of the Apes franchise so I am very excited to see where it goes next.