War for the Planet of the Apes
“Apes, together, STRONG,”
The New planet of the apes trilogy has quickly become one of my favorites of all time. Rise of the Planet of the apes was my favorite movie of 2011, and Dawn of the Planet of the apes cracked number 5 on my top ten of 2014 (An extremely tough year). I had a lot of expectations for this movie because, not only did it have to live up to its predecessors, but it had to close out Caesar’s three movie arc in a satisfying way. The movie surprised me with its staunch biblical and philosophical themes, and with its lack of large action set-pieces, rather relying on more personal connections with characters, and emotional battles said characters have to overcome.
The acting in War for the planet of the apes is quite possibly the best in the series. Andy Serkis always delivers with his motion capture performances and this is no different; however, I am of the mind that this might be his best one. Caesar himself is easily one of my favorite film characters of all time, and this is in large part due to Andy Serkis’ performance. The amount of nuance and knowledge it takes to pull off an ape who speaks near-fluent English is out of this world, but Andy Serkis manages to pull it off, simply because he is THAT good. Woody Harrleson as the Colonel is incredibly creepy, menacing but also understandable and reasonable. The way he connects to the audience, appealing to our human nature and common sense, is something most ordinary actors would just “say” but Woody Harrelson performs, and delivers. Amiah Miller is someone I did NOT expect to impress as much as she did. She provided the much needed heart to this movie so emblazoned with serious stakes and a redemptive theme. Moreover, I believe Andy Serkis should be nominated for an academy award. His performance was moving, allegorical, and just so incredibly natural. Woody Harrleson was a great foil, but there’s only room for one Oscar contender in this powerful film.
The grand action set-pieces in this movie are in the beginning and the tail end. Both sequences are well choreographed and boast ground-breaking effects, but the one at towards the boot of the film could have used a little more close up shots of the raging war, and a real, individual belligerent’s perspective on the goings-on apart from our crown-jewel Caesar. The action in the film may be scarce, but its purposeful, and poignant.
As aforementioned, the themes presented in the film are almost biblical. For example, our hero Caesar leads his people out of captivity, and into the promised land where they can live in freedom, and no longer believe that they, as apes are second-rate. Caesar himself is a passageway to a greater understanding for the apes, and he also acts as role model for all of them to look up to. Caesar makes decisions when it matters. At first, he makes decisions based on passion, and pure fury, but as time goes on and the film progresses, he rises from his seemingly single-minded and primitive mentality to deliver his people, and be the leader that he always needed to be. As you could guess here, the film can get pretty heavy and thought provoking, luckily, Timothy Zahn’s bad ape is there to provide some lighthearted humour and some required levity. While ultimately, this is a story about apes searching for freedom, we learn a lot about mankind, and the way we combat unknown threats with our pure ignorance.
Overall, The final chapter in the revival trilogy of the planet of the apes franchise goes out on a hot note, bringing with it purposeful action, poetic themes, and powerful acting.
Visual Effects: 10
Story telling: 10
Re-watch value: 8
Character Development: 10