War of the Planet of the Apes Review
The Planet of the Apes films have always been such a unique franchise that focuses on a world where primates gain intellect and take over the known world. The reboot’s initial film, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was fantastic and Rise of the Planet of the Apes followed close behind in quality. So how did the third film, War of the Planet of the Apes do compared to the others? I got to attend a screening of the film and I have to say I did enjoy the film but it is not without its faults!
Starting off this review, we’ll dive into the positive aspects! The CGI in this film was phenomenal, every single ape looked life like on the silver screen as they walked, fought, motioned in sign language, and showed emotion. It had to have been a challenge for film makers in the past to make viewers have sympathy for the apes with limited special effects, relying on either incredible prosthetics or make up in order to convince the viewers these were sentient apes.
If you are unfamiliar with the story line, a medical mishap resulted in certain apes gaining an immense amount of intellect to the point of being able to communicate verbally and while a majority of apes wanted to live in peace, a faction of them acted out in violence to the humans who tested on them or placed them in zoos. Over the course of the films a disease had broken out which wiped out a large population of humans, giving apes the chance to establish their own society in the woods. This film involves the military making a strong effort to destroy Cesar and his followers. Somehow, this leader of a new society of intelligent apes must guide his people to safety while also wrestling with his own deep rooted desires and frustrations with humans.
So lets get into the review!
If you asked me “Would you ever find yourself on the edge of your seat as you watched an ape fight a heavily armed soldier?” I would have probably said yes but never really would have believed my eyes to witness such a feat. Then War of the Planet of the Apes came in to my life and I can confirm that the fight scenes are very entertaining. The mix of primal savagery mixed with modern warfare was interesting.
Admittedly some scenes were a bit awkward as gorillas would run with a rifle in their hand or ride horses and the silliness of the sight would take away from the tension. After seeing the apes with modern items helped my grow accustom to the scene and I was completely invested in the film.
The characters of War of the Planet of the Apes were entertaining but limited. The most character development was Cesar who entered the film with the belief that victory could be achieved through peace before an event occurs that completely shatters his philosophy. He spends the rest of the film wrestling with his inner demons while his situation becomes more dire. I found myself invested heavily in his storyline, which is exactly what a viewer should feel.
However for the villain, The Colonel, I couldn’t quite get too attached to. He hated the apes because of the destruction that the apes indirectly brought upon the human race, which is understandable, but his entire motivation came from events that occurred off screen and we were left with a man who was unwavering in his beliefs. Even in his final moments, it felt so routine to watch the bad guy fall from grace.
The side characters all remained the same through out the film which were loyal to Cesar and put their people before themselves. A side character that I was invested in was Nova. Nova was a small girl who had been affected by the disease which renders humans unable to speak. Over the course of the film she not only learns to enjoy the presence of the apes but also learns to communicate as they do with sign language and ultimately considers herself a part of them. She did have an affect on the surrounding characters who learned that not all humans are terrible.
While the characters themselves were alright, the acting was incredible. Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Amiah Miller, and others do so well at their roles that they really make the film. I cared so much about CGI apes and their journey based on the broken English or how they reacted to Cesar. The Colonel and his men also had great scenes as they struggled between whether or not to be kind to the apes or focused on being complete assholes to them. One side character in particular had been in a vulnerable position early on and was saved by the heroes but then later acted against what the viewers hoped he would do and it actually surprised me! The actor looked conflicted the entire film but he gave the impression he would act accordingly when needed.
Cesar’s journey is epic as he travels from the woods to the snow covered mountains and eventually into a military base. The entire adventure the aesthetics of the background was jaw dropping as it was probably the most beautiful post apocalypse setting I have ever seen. The urge to hike rose in me as a world without humans looked pretty darn peaceful. Specific examples were the waterfall caverns, snow covered mountainsides and the woods. We are so used to seeing so much destruction and decay in post apocalyptic and yet it was a bit incredible to see how peaceful the world would be without a large human presence.
I enjoyed War of the Planet of the Apes but I do believe it will have a larger impact on viewers who has seen the previous two films. It does a decent job of teaching the viewer what the major problems of the world are but still just lacks a certain hook that would make this film incredible on its own. The journey Cesar embarked on was epic and unique compared to many other films but I hard a difficult time buying into the concept of ape main characters who used sign language and grunts to communicate. The ending was solid and I did feel emotional for every victory and defeat they came across!