Cast: Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn
Director: Matt Reeves
Producer: Peter Chernin, Dylan Clark, Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver
Writer: Mark Bomback, Matt Reeves
Genre: Sci-Fic Drama
Duration: 140 Mins*
War for The Planet of the Apes is the third installment in the rebooted Planet of the Apes franchise. Matt Reeves returns to the director’s chair after the highly acclaimed movie, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes to finish the trilogy. He is reportedly going to direct the next Batman film too. If this is the case, I must say Warner Brothers have placed a very good bet. This movie is undoubtedly one of the best movies of the year and perhaps one of the best trilogies ever.
This episode begins with a War raging on between humankind and apes. Matt Reeves slowly builds up tension for a battle between gun and crossbow wielding combatants and apes on horsebacks sealing the result as breathtaking. The leader of the apes, Ceaser is played by the exceedingly talented motion capture pioneer Andy Serkis and his emotions throughout the movie are Oscar worthy. Technology plays a major part in his saga and during this movie I more often than not found the lines between CGI and reality rather blurry. The subtlety of each detail and the expressions of the apes is mindboggling. Reeves tenaciously keeps cutting to close ups of faces, highlighting all the emotions as though they are real. And it feels real and emotional! The narrative on a whole is a somewhat revenge story coupled with the backdrop of the terrors war. With war comes antagonists and Woody Harrelson plays a dictator-like Colonel McCullough. His character is a very menacing albeit motivated war veteran with deep-rooted hatred towards the apes. Each character has weight to them and their death/capture tugs at your heartstrings.
The movie is subtly a commentary on slavery and World War 2. The base camp where the apes were being held captive seemed very holocaustic in nature. Clearly the Director took some cues from the concentration camps during Hitler’s time. The only humane character is a girl called Nova (Amiah Miller), a mute war orphan who is adopted by Ceaser and his orangutan advisor Maurice (Karin Konoval). Steve Zahn plays Bad Ape, a clumsy, jittery ape who’s fumbles and mumbles are the lighthearted moments in the movie. Each monkey character was grounded and real making their story arc much more compelling than the humans.
War of the Planet of the Apes is a heartfelt and excellent closing to the trilogy. The director understands that you don’t always need a big action sequence to fill a gap. Sometimes an emotional close up will do the trick. The movie is packed with visual references to wartime epics like a brief shot of graffiti reading “Ape-pocalypse” but it also has sincere humor. The movie has a marvelous escape sequence in its third act. Technology can only do so much and its Andy Serkis’s performance and Reeves’s direction that make this conclusion real and original.