RELEASED: 11th July 2017
DIRECTOR: Matt Reeves
CAST: Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Karin Konoval, Terry Notary, Steve Zahn, Amiah Miller, Gabriel Chavarria, Ty Olsson, Judy Greer, Max Lloyd-Jones, Devyn Dalton, Sara Canning, Michael Adamthwaite, Aleks Paunovic, Alessandro Juliani, Chad Rook and Toby Kebbell
BOX OFFICE WORLDWIDE: $490.7m
AWARDS: None (Academy Award nomination and BAFTA nomination)
After the events of Dawn For The Planet Of The Apes, Caesar and his apes are forced into a deadly conflict with an army of humans that are led by a ruthless Colonel. After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestlers with his darker instincts and goes on a journey to avenge his kind, pitting him against the Colonel in an epic battle that will determine the fate of both their species and the future of the planet.
With the Planet of the Apes franchise rebooted in 2011 with Rupert Wyatt’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which surprised many with its refreshing take on the origins of how chimpanzees become intelligent through viral-based drug tests, leading to us following Caesar over the course of this trilogy, leading to 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and the 2017 conclusion, War for the Planet of the Apes. Two years after the events of Koba’s attack on the human colony in Dawn, Caesar and the tribe have been forced to fight against a rogue U.S military faction led by a ruthless Colonel. When the apes’ hideout is attacked and they suffer heavy losses, Caesar decides to seek vengeance against the Colonel, leading to a confrontation that will determine the fate of both species and who will rule the Earth. What I loved about this specific trilogy is the character journey of Caesar, as we witness him growing up human care, as well as coming to understand his fellow apes in Rise, then in Dawn we see his leadership amongst his fellow apes come into question to he tries to maintain order between ape and the remaining humans. Here in War, we find Caesar in his darkest hour, as he battles for his tribe and also his soul in taking on a rogue military platoon led by the Colonel. We see Caesar looking older, toughened by the war thats ensued the last few years and how he’s being haunted by loss and guilt through the course of the film as his mindset in previous films has now been altered into a path of vengeance and even his closest friends, Maurice and Rocket, are telling him that he’s starting to remind them of someone they once knew…Koba. Koba’s influence still lingers in War, from him being cause of this war, to Caesar having hallucinations of him. Tonally, this installment is the darkest and bleakest in the Caesar trilogy, as we’re thrown right into the middle of this war and it is relentless in showcasing the cruelty of war. With a runtime of two hours and twenty minutes, that tone and how its presented here might be too much for some viewers, but for me I really liked the tone and that Matt Reeves and Mark Bomback’s screenplay went there. The cinematography work from Michael Seresin here is absolutely gorgeous to look at, from how he captures the natural environment in scenes like Caesar, Rocket, Maurice and Luca on horses strolling the beach, to the white, snowy surroundings of Bad Ape’s introduction. The score from Michael Giacchino is great as well, with tracks such as ‘Assault of the Earth’ and ‘Exit Wounds’ capturing the tone scope of the film. Everyone behind the camera is at the top of their game and you can see the confidence unfold onscreen in the world it’s creating and the narrative it’s telling. The performances from the ensemble are great as well, in particular Andy Serkis as he is, once again, terrific as Caesar, providing one of the most memorable characters that decade. While I initially thought Woody Harrelson gave a good performance as The Colonel, I felt he was slightly too much of a homage to Marlon Brando’s Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now. It’s on repeated viewing however that I believe that his character is the perfect foil to Caesar and definitely the most interesting human character in the Caesar trilogy as a man that expresses his purpose is to cleanse the disease that almost wiped out humankind, acting on the fact that survival of the human race is at stake, and we understand his point of view and see how far he’s willing to go to sacrifice for what he believes is the greater good. Whilst the film is darker in tone, the added addition of Steve Zahn’s Bad Ape (a loner ape that lived in a zoo that joins with Caesar’s group) provides levity at the right moments, with a sad backstory and I thought Zahn done the role really well, as does Ty Olsson portraying the role of Red, a gorilla that was once a follower of Koba that since then has joined forces with the military to not only help them track and attack apekind, but enslave them too, and it was interesting to see his character arc unfold throughout the film. The biggest stars here, as with the previous films however, is Weta Digital, as the special effects work here is absolutely outstanding, with the apes being more expressive than ever before, conveying more emotion across the different kind of apes that at times you have to tell yourself that they aren’t real. I absolutely love this trilogy, arguably one of the most underrated trilogies out there, and considering I had no interest at the start of last decade in the Planet of the Apes franchise, that’s some feat.
FAVOURITE SCENE: Caesar meets with the Colonel in the tower of the military base and we learn of the Colonel’s past actions, his ideology and learn a revelation. The scene is well put together and I like Harrelson’s delivery of the dialogue and the special effects capturing Caesar’s emotions.
FAVOURITE QUOTE: “All of human history has lead to this moment. The irony is we created you. And nature has been punishing us ever since. This is our last stand. And if we lose… it will be a Planet of Apes.” – The Colonel
DID YOU KNOW: According to Matt Reeves, the name of the group of rebelling humans are the Alpha and Omega, a reference to the bomb the mutants worshiped in Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970). The logo on their helmets and flag matches the original logo on the bomb.