War For The Planet of The Apes: Apes' Last Stand

Film Review

    As I left the theater after watching Director Matt Reeves’ War For The Planet of The Apes, so many emotions were running through my head: anger, fear, and even, strangely, joy. This film left me amazed, shocked, and in wonder at what I was watching unfold on the screen, because this isn’t merely a strong conclusion to a solid trilogy. It’s also a cinematic marvel. War For The Planet of The Apes is definitelynot a film for the weak of heart (hence, why some audience members may not care to attend), but it is an excellent conclusion to a very good trilogy.

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    War For The Planet of The Apes follows where the story left off after Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014). Caesar, the film’s main character and leader of the chimpanzee clan, has evolved to the point where he can speak perfect English. The clan are now living in the wilderness to avoid human conflict, when suddenly, they are attacked by a human led military group, named Alpha-Omega, under the command of The Colonel, played by Woody Harrelson. Having suffered losses, Caesar is forced to deal with his darker ideals, and goes on a quest to avenge his own kind, eventually finding himself going up against The Colonel in a battle that will decide the fate of both species, human and ape.

    The Planet of The Apes first two films were never the greatest showcase for human characters, featuring largely weak characters, and were more focused on the apes and special effects. This film partially bucks that trend though, by introducing The Colonel, and a young girl, and does he not disappoint. Harrelson, as The Colonel, is, simply put, terrifying. In his introductory scene, The Colonel randomly shows up with mud on his face, before doing a stare-off with Caesar, in an amazing sequence. The Colonel is the type of cruel, unredeemable villain that fits in with this series quite well. This is especially apparent in his mercy speech, where he reveals that he killed his own son. He’s a true, ruthless, excellent antagonist.

    The apes themselves are as great as ever, with Andy Serkis (who seriously deserves a special Oscar for this series), as Caesar, leading the pack, still haunted by the death of Koba, who started the ape revolution, and out for revenge on humans for supposedly killing his wife Cornelia and their child, Cornelius (a callback to the original film). Throughout the film, Caesar (Andy Serkis) proves himself to be the star of the franchise, and is very much brilliantly given the most focus. The film also introduces the character bad-ape, played by Steve Zahn, a bumbling though ultimately useful character who is meant to provide some serious comic-relief. Many people may groan at his appearance, but I found his character’s design and personality to be a nice  change of pace for the film.

    The other major character in the film is a mute girl, named Nova, who Maurice, the orangutan, befriends. Nova is an important character who ends up helping the apes in the end, and is an example of Caesar and the apes, actually sympathizing with a human character, which is a remarkable thing considering they had grown to despise humans, but also realize that, maybe, not all of them are bad.

    Special thanks, as always, must go to Weta Digital, the visual effects company out of New Zealand (Lord of the Rings), who has always brought their A game to these films, and I think they may have outdone themselves this time. Not only do the apes look realistic for being Computer Generated Imagery (CGI), but the interaction between them and the humans, particularly the young girl and the apes, are amazingly realistic. It helps that Serkis, and the rest of the actors, are able to convincingly act as those apes, via the use of motion-capture, and thus, makes them seem more realistic than they are. It takes a lot of work to do what they’ve done, and they and the rest of the staff deserve props for that. Hats off.

    War For The Planet of The Apes is not for everyone, it’s a largely humorless film, but I found much to enjoy about it. It’s a terrifically told story. It’s not really a war, more like a battle, and it is a powerful film that manages to juggle traditional Hollywood cliches, and also tackle hard and harsh ideas. The apes’ treatment and imprisonment in this film is basically a clear allegory for slavery, in all its gruesome nature, even if it’s still PG-13 friendly. It’s a terrific blockbuster, featuring excellent special effects, and strong themes. Definitely worth a viewing, especially on the big-screen. It’s as cinematic as it gets.

Playing now at Flagship Premium Cinemas, Rutland - 12:30pm, 3:45pm, 6:50pm, 9:45pm

To read my Advantages and Disadvantages of CGI click here.

To read my Spider-Man: Homecoming - Marvel Makes Spider-Man Relevant Again  click here.

To read my Dunkirk: It's The Real Deal Film Reviewclick here

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