Rated M – 140 mins.
If you loved Planet of the Apes, first released in 1968, then War for the Planet of the Apes will not disappoint. Alternatively if you were underwhelmed by The Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) or Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, then here is the antidote.
War is a satisfying conclusion to Caesar’s journey and is both a compelling self-contained story and the final installment of the Planet of the Apes reboot trilogy.
War begins with a recap of the previous two films, informing us an inadvertently human-created virus has killed most humans and continues to remove the power of speech from some surviving humans, whilst enhancing apes’ cognitive abilities.
A fanatical military leader-gone-rogue, The Colonel (Woody Harrelson) perceives this as humans de-evolving and is on a mission to forestall the process by wiping out both the evolved apes and the de-evolved humans.
The Colonel hunts Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his mob to their new home, deep in the woods near San Francisco, and in one raid The Colonel kills members of Caesar’s family, which leaves Caesar wresting with and embracing a dark desire for revenge.
Sending his mob off to find a safer place to live, Caesar goes on a revenge hunt for The Colonel. Accompanying him are long-time allies Rocket (Terry Notary), Luca (Michael Adamthwaite) and seasoned orangutan, Maurice (Karin Konoval). Along the way they pick up an enigmatic, mute, human girl, Nova (Amiah Miller) and a traumatised and innocent ex-zoo chimp calling himself “Bad Ape” (Steve Zahn), who plays a beautifully-comedic role.
Onwards, our small group find their larger mob caught and held in abusive captivity by The Colonel. Caesar too is subsequently caught and War takes on a POW caper, think “The Great Esc-Ape”, inclusive of some harsh-disciplinary scenes but also acts of surprising tenderness and poo-flinging fun.
It is here Caesar’s leadership and morality is tested; and the mob’s reunification of Caesar’s teaching “Apes together strong”.
War is a story of survival during a time of terrible conflict – and the conflict is one of identity, morality and the boundaries of humanity – rather than a focus on war-fighting, guns and explosions (which do exist in the film!).
Thanks to computer-generation, the apes, gorillas, orangutans and chimpanzees are remarkably humanistic with beautifully detailed facial expressions and differing movements and speeds; worth seeing for its own merit.
Rating: 4 out of 5.