“War for the Planet of the Apes” stars Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn, Amiah Miller, Karin Konoval, Judy Greer, and Terry Notary. Released on July 14, 2017, the film has Caesar fighting off his darker instincts in order to battle the Colonel and his human army.
The film is directed by Matt Reeves, who also directed films such as The Pallbearer, Cloverfield, and Let Me In. It is the third installment in the Planet of the Apes reboot series. So far, the reboot series has been met with a lot of praise from critics and movie-goers alike in terms of its story, themes, and a surprising amount of emotional depth. From the looks of the reviews for the latest installment, I can easily assume that it’s showing no signs of slowing down. I was one of the people that immensely enjoy the first two Planet of the Apes reboot installments, and I was pretty darn excited to see what direction they’re going to go for the third movie. Yes, I know that it’s going to be about the war between the humans and the apes, but I’m talking about the overall storytelling in general since Matt Reeves knows how to keep things more grounded and character-driven. The month of July got off to a great start with Spider-Man: Homecoming, so let’s see if Caesar can continue that trend.
The events in the film take place about two years after the previous installment, with Caesar and his clan fighting to survive against the military fraction known as Alpha-Omega, lead by the threatening Colonel, played by Woody Harrelson. Things get a little bit more complicated when some of the apes joined forces with the humans due to Caesar showing mercy. So, it’s the apes’ way of saying “screw you, we’re done with this stuff” to Caesar. The story seems to have taken inspiration from certain films that involve revenge and prison breaks, but at the same time it showcases a new chapter that brings the entire franchise full circle, and the result is nothing but amazing. Like Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the film offers a balanced mixture of emotion and action without relying on one thing over the other. It had a lot of depressing and emotional moments every now and then, but it didn’t come to a point where it’s 100% grim. The cast and the characters still remain as one of the strongest points of the reboot trilogy, with Andy Serkis and Woody Harrelson leading the charge as Caesar and the Colonel, respectively. Caesar is going through a lot in this film, including being haunted by the events in Dawn and going on a quest to avenge his own kind, and Andy Serkis did a brilliant job at portraying this type of character. Harrelson also did a great job with his role as the military leader who wants to remove the apes from existence so that humans can continue their role as the dominant species. There’s this one scene in the film that involves Caesar and the Colonel that was nicely directed by Matt Reeves and very engaging to the eyes. Remember when I said that there were some depressing moments in the film? Well, the reason why it’s not 100% depressing is because of Bad Ape, played by Steve Zahn. Bad Ape appears to be the comic relief in the film, and the way they displayed that is just perfect. Not only was he a great supporting character, but a hilarious one as well. Newcomer Amiah Miller was also impressive as Nova, a silent human orphan who gets adopted by Maurice. The visual effects should at least get nominated at the Oscars for its amazing use of texture and depth, especially on the apes. Michael Giacchino returns to compose the score for War and I’m once again impressed with how it sounds and how it translates the scenes’ emotion. If there’s one thing that I should be concerned about, it would probably be the pacing. The movie clocks in at around two hours and 20 minutes, and there were a couple of scenes that dragged a little bit. It didn’t bother me that much because I was engaged by its storytelling, but I’m afraid that those who wanted a fast-paced, flashy action blockbuster would wind up being bored out of their minds. Also, and I know that I mentioned this before, the film will make you feel plenty of emotions, such as anger, happiness, and sadness. Mostly sadness. So, make sure you bring some tissues just in case.
Overall, “War for the Planet of the Apes” is a splendid and emotional conclusion to one of the most well-received movie trilogies in Hollywood history. Filled with strong performances, Matt Reeves’ flawless direction, great visuals, Giacchino’s score, and a story that’s filled with the right amount of emotion and action, this is a threequel that’s done right. If you’re a fan of the last two Planet of the Apes films and the entire franchise, in general, I would highly recommend seeing this on the big screen. As for the reboot series, I think it’s probably better if they don’t move forward with another Planet of the Apes film because the way they ended the film, and the trilogy itself, is near-perfection. Unless they have a great story that they can use, I really don’t think a fourth film is necessary, but that’s just my opinion.