Reviews: “Apes together, strong!” War for the Planet of the Apes
Directed by Matt Reeves,
Starring Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn, Karin Konoval, Amiah Miller
The latest installment in the franchise which examines the road to Planet of the Apes. Caesar is trying to protect his fellow apes against the humans who have been persisting on regaining the upper hand. He offers a peace, to leave the woods for the apes, but a dedicated – or obsessed – general will not take that offer. The general infiltrates the Apes lair and kills members of Caesar’s family, which leads the ape leader on a road of revenge.
After the events of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, with Caesar mentally and emotionally scarred from the battle and the betrayal, the apes have grown in number, and their society has become more sophisticated. The only trouble is that humans and traitorous apes have started to try harder to take back the world from the apes. Unlike the last movie and more with the feeling of the first film, War for the Planet of the Apes pushes the action to the back foot/ Don’t worry fans of action it’s there, it’s just that they want more of a story here. Instead War for the Planet of the Apes shows Caesar learning that his hope for peace is just that, a hope, and must learn the ways of humanity in order for his fellow apes to prosper.
I don’t know how Andy Serkis has not won an Oscar for his roles in these films. I know that the computer and animators do a lot of work in changing him from Human to Ape, but the subtle nature of his performances, and the gentle nature that he has to show, it’s better than most male leads throughout the year. Here he has more to do than at any other time in the series. As Caesar and the general, played by Woody Harrelson, have to pit their wits against each other. Harrelson is just amazing at the Marlon Brando style general, he’s out on his own from the rest of the military forces, who want to bring him down. His psychotic leadership though makes sense to his men, and that makes him a far better villain than most movies can dream of.
Along the way, we meet a young girl who cannot speak, called Nova, and a new ape called Bad Ape, played by Steve Zahn. Bad Ape is the comic relief and a welcome character for the film, offering a glimpse at isolation and insanity.
The effects and creation of this new world are second to none, seriously detailed, and the script is just beautiful. Capturing the mental anguish that Caesar and the other apes are going through while still showing the effects that the virus and new world has on the humans. When the action does kick in it’s done with sympathy to the story rather than fighting against it. The apes know that they cannot stay where they are and have sent out scouts to find their new home, away from any humans, while the General and his men are preparing themselves for an attack from the other military forces that think he’s out of control. The two conflicting stories are brought together when the General takes apes prisoner to build his wall. There is something about our own world being said there, but for the life of me, I can’t put my finger on it. I’ll work that out later.
War for the Planet of the Apes, for me, brings this story to a conclusion, at least it brings Caesar’s story to a full circle. He wants to raise his son in the new paradise that his scouts have found and will stop at nothing to achieve that goal. This is a film where you’ll laugh, cheer for both sides of the war, and cry like a little child. I have to give massive amounts of credit to the entire creative team and the performers who give everything to make this the best film of the series and one of the best films of the summer.
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