War For The Planet Of The Apes is the third installment of the recent Apes trilogy which follows Caeser (Andy Serkis) and his band of merry apes as they attempt to live out their lives in peace and harmony, however the Colonel (Woody Harrelson) and his band of shitty humans just can’t allow that to happen. The film also stars Steve Zahn, Karin Konoval, Amiah Miller and is directed by Matt Reeves (Cloverfield, Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes).
My Thoughts On The Characters And Story
I’ve always resented the phrase “what are you, an animal??” Because there are instances throughout history where animals have acted with more humanity than actual human beings. The recent Apes trilogy has been a fascinating journey and insight into the character of Caeser portrayed flawlessly in all three films by Andy Serkis with the assistance of the spectacularly talented mo-cap VFX team. War provides a masterful conclusion for Caeser and a fitting goodbye to a friend we’ve all grown immensely attached to since 2011 with Rise. Throughout the film, there are emotionally heavy sequences that feature typical tricks to pull as much as it can on your heart strings (melancholic piano notes, slow mo). While there were a few moments where I felt myself rightfully tearing up, I believe it could’ve been toned down just a smidgen since certain sequences felt majorly drawn out.
There have been some to criticize the film for its lack of traditional “war” sequences, that is, if you’re going into it expecting bombastic action sequence after bombastic action sequence featuring apes on unicorns shooting RPGs at a wall of humans, you will be sorely disappointed. For myself, I rather enjoyed the focal point being the brutal relationship between the apes and humans since it’s such a great concept that the film explores relatively well. The motivations for all the characters were clear and while Woody Harrelson‘s mustache-twirling antagonistic ways made me roll my eyes occasionally, I understand why he holds such a deep hatred for the apes… There was an actual moment, however, where he blurts out something like “YOU’RE SO EMOTIONAL!” and I couldn’t hold it in.
An aspect I thoroughly enjoyed with the film was the introduction of its newer characters. Steve Zahn’s presence is made known in every single film he’s in yet many general audiences have no idea who he is which is frankly quite criminal in my eyes. His portrayal of Bad Ape is absolutely brilliant and provides much needed breaths of comic relief during the latter half of the film. Easily the standout performance for me (besides the obvious Serkis and Zahn) is 13-year-old Amiah Miller (Lights Out) who portrays Nova, a young girl unable to speak who is befriended by the apes. Virtually every time she was on screen I was fixated completely on her performance, particularly during her interactions with Maurice (Karin Konoval). Would I pay for a spin-off series where we watch various hijinks ensue with Nova and Maurice? Absofuckinglutely.
There is some pretty brutal imagery in the film that I didn’t expect would pack such a punch but it did tenfold. I’m able to tolerate all the blood, guts and violence seen in a shitty underground guerrilla flick, however when it comes to the idea of a living being treating a fellow living being (regardless of species) as if they are genuinely as important as a speck of dirt, it just turns my stomach. I like how far they went with the depiction of such atrocities, as much as a PG-13 would allow anyway.
While I enjoyed how events unfolded for the most part, an aspect I really wish was executed better was in the actual camp itself. I’m unable to say it without spoilers so here be a warning: SPOILERS I can accept the random stumbling onto the underground tunnel even though it seemed a bit of a deus ex machina. What really irked me was the idea that there was just wide open holes inside and surrounding the camp that nobody managed to realize while on duty or simply walking around. Had there been some type of actual covering or even a plank of fucking wood, I would’ve relatively accepted it for what it was. However this was a glaring thing I couldn’t forgive because it could’ve been solved so simply. END SPOILER. The guards were also wildly incompetent somehow especially during a specific sequence in the camp involving a guest’s ability to seemingly turn invisible in the face of adversity.
How Were The Other Aspects Of ‘War’?
Matt Reeves clearly knows how to frame these shots to thoroughly highlight the mo-capped actors’ expressions. The tense sequences were executed well and because of the remarkable minds behind the visual effects, it is gorgeous looking albeit incredibly dreary overall (possibly because of the whole “war” thing). Michael Giacchino’s (LOST, Spider-Man: Homecoming) score is ridiculously impactful, I love that man’s work and this is another stellar addition to his composing works.
If you’ve been invested in the Apes trilogy and are looking for a brilliantly beautiful conclusion to the arc of Caeser, check out War For The Planet Of The Apes.
War For The Planet Of The Apes receives 3.5/5 Matt Damon heads.