'War for the Planet of the Apes' Review
Back in 2011, Rupert Wyatt crafted a reboot of the franchise Planet of the Apes. Since then, Matt Reeves had come in on the last two movies and helped craft, along with the talents of Andy Serkis, quite possibly one of the best trilogies in recent memory. Most trilogies have a stigma surrounding their third film. However, this trilogy is at its best in its final act. War has plenty of undertones of racism and even religion that make it more prevalent with current issues in the real world. This allows the audience to really resonate with it. However, the true strength of the film lies in its focus on the character of Caesar and the masterful performance from Andy Serkis.
The plot follows Caesar (Serkis) as he is thrown into a war with mankind that he didn't want. He fights solely for the survival of his own people, but at his core he wants the bloodshed to end. His people all view him as their god and look to him to lead them to a home where they can be safe. On the other side of the war, The Colonel (Woody Harrelson) leads an army of soldiers who all believe that this war is necessary to stave off their own extinction. They will fight even if it means losing their own humanity. The soldiers even refer to themselves as the Alpha and Omega. They go so far as to take apes as slaves, branding them with the symbol of Alpha and Omega. These apes didn't see eye-to-eye with Caesar's regime and fell in line with Koba's vision for apekind. In order to survive, they felt the need to fall in line with The Colonel. After the Caesar's apes suffer some unimaginable losses, he struggles with his own inner darkness and sets forth on his own quest to avenge his people. The battle between Caesar and The Colonel will determine the very fate of both their species.
War is as close to a perfect film and finale to a trilogy that has come to mind in recent memory. It is the era of trilogies in the film industry and Apes might now be at the top of the food chain in that respect. Its strong focus on character development, plot, and exceptional dialogue make it stand above the rest. No one should ever underestimate the talents of Andy Serkis. Matt Reeves also did a masterful job behind the camera. The film is very much a war film that even has some parallels to Apocalypse Now. It shows how a war can change someone. In a very funny way, the film even pokes fun at the similarity. The trailers showcase the battle, which is such a small part of the film. This is by no means a disappointment. The battle has some beautiful shots that really stand out and has a lot of emotional weight. The film score was also beautifully composed by Michael Giacchino and it reflects how quiet and understated the film itself was. War is such a quiet film but it does a tremendous job in conveying a wide range of emotion with such few words that it may as well be tiptoeing with the idea of being a silent film.
Once more, Andy Serkis deserves plenty of praise for his work in this film. He is very much the star; without him, the rest of the film could have very well fall apart. It is a shame that not many people know who he is since almost all of his work is done in motion capture. He is very much a transcendent talent. Motion capture has been around for a long time, but it is where it is now thanks to Serkis. His performance as Caesar in this film is as involved and intensive as any role that gets acknowledged during Oscar season. His ability to convey the inner turmoil that Caesar goes through as he wrestles with his desire to kill The Colonel as well as coping with his murder of fellow ape Koba from the previous film is spectacular. Surprisingly, Steve Zaun has a great turn as Bad Ape, a rather tragic character that provides plenty of laughs in a rather somber movie. Woody Harrelson was also a great villain for the film. All of the films in the series had a natural progression to them. They showed us how mankind would reach a point where they would lose their humanity in the way that The Colonel had. Woody Harrelson had plenty of screen presence and portrayed the villain perfectly as a great foil to Caesar.