The third installment of the Planet of the Apes reboot franchise is more of a survival film. I found that to be a bit disappointing because I expected an epic battle between the apes and the humans. Yes, you do get to see a war but not to the full extent.
The movie is an emotional ride. Not only will you hate the humans’ guts, but you will also shed tears for the apes’ agonizing plight. It’s fascinating how the series manages to make its audience root for the apes instead of our kind.
War of the Planet of the Apes takes place two years after the
events of the second film. The military faction known as the Alpha-Omega have
attacked the apes’ lair in the night, prompting Caesar to exact revenge,
specifically on the Colonel.
Woody Harrelson plays this menacing villain with ease. No surprise there, as he is a natural when it comes to being a bad guy. But the thing I like most about this character’s portrayal is that you don’t totally hate him.
The film takes time to explain what his faction is fighting for. It’s a question of morality and instead of going for something black and white, the movie nestles in grey areas.
Even so, the series has always been from the apes’ perspective.
act sees Caesar and his closest comrades separating from the rest of the clan
to infiltrate the Alpha-Omega’s base and kill the Colonel. In some parts, we
see Caesar struggle with his fear that he will turn out like Koba (the ape who
turned on them in Dawn because of his
hatred of humans). He pushes on, eager to spill the Colonel’s blood. A CGI-ed Andy
Serkis portrays Caesar’s internal conflicts really convincingly.
His little ape posse has the most screen time, which allows room for character development. Fans of the previous films already hold familiar apes dear (like Maurice and Luca), but this movie also introduces new characters: Nova, an orphan girl who can’t speak, and Bad Ape, a scavenger from another zoo.
Though Nova can’t utter a word, her naivety makes for an adorable performance. Being a human, she ironically serves as a beacon of hope for the apes in these trying times. Bad Ape meanwhile, brings humor to the table, and in all the seriousness of the film, his presence is a welcome change.
For a film
that’s supposed to be the final entry in the series, it still settled for some
world-building, which leaves you with unanswered questions. For example, it was
briefly mentioned that some humans have a theory to cure the Simian Flu, but
the movie ends without ever revealing what it was. I guess they’re still
planning to milk the franchise for more than it’s worth.
Towards the finale, we see Caesar stand united with his army of apes. “Apes together strong”, as the chant goes. Though there wasn’t as many fight scenes as I thought there would be, an army screaming their battle cry always gives me the chills.
Though there were too many melodramatic scenes for my taste, War for the Planet of the Apes is still a gripping film with thought-provoking elements. Normally, I assume the last of a trilogy is the worst, but in this case, it’s the best.