Truly breathtaking….. With this incredible entry capping off the trilogy we can finally call this apes trilogy one of the greatest of all time. For those of you who don’t know what i thought of the last film in this franchise ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’, it is up there as one of my favourite films of all time, meaning this had a lot to live up to following such a masterpiece. And with this film Matt Reeves has delivered once again producing this brilliant, intense, action packed, and truly emotional product that is grand in scale touching on a vast range of gripping subjects. It features phenomenal performances, the best special effects visible today, and is lead by a very deep and emotionally powerful character driven narrative. It takes twists and turns in the story that you don’t see coming and has you hooked on this journey along with Caesar from minute one.
The trailers for this film were big, they were epic, and they promised a big finale to this story and 6 year journey we have been on. Now where this film delivers on all of that pure awesome action it also has layers upon layers of depth in the characters and minds of the people and apes that inhabit this new world. It expands immensely on ape civilisation and how they have developed to survive and live as a functioning community. Through this approach the film has a goal to get you to understand and connect with the apes and it does this by drawing links and similarities to familiar human social constructs. This deeper focus on the contrast between apes and humans, the civilised and the savage was riveting to watch and pays off in absolute spades by the end.
Religion has played a pretty significant part in the original Planet of the Apes films and this film is no different as it seems to be littered with biblical references some of which are very subtle and others that are very strongly presented. The meanings behind these biblical connections are strongly explored here and give more insight into certain characters and allow you to understand their current position by linking back to these familiar events.
Now when it comes to the action, War for the Planet of the Apes is brutal and provides us with some truly harrowing sequences that will have you on the edge of your seat. In all of these sequences it is the apes you are rooting for, these are the characters you have been with for three films now and Reeves has done an incredible job getting you to to understand and care for these apes as if they are real people. This adds an emotional level to every war scene and you won’t want to look away for a single second.
And i have to say, take a bow Andy Serkis….. This series would be nothing without his incredible acting abilities and experience as the undisputed king of performance capture. What he manages to bring through his performance as Caesar is amazing. So much emotion is conveyed through his facial expressions alone that the line between ape and human is stretched incredibly thin. This is a man who should have an Oscar on his mantle by now but unfortunately this type of work isn’t considered good enough to even compete. Woody Harrelson was a perfect addition to this franchise and his role as the Colonel was haunting and you see this guy who is clearly strong and determined but also more complex than just a cliche evil military guy. Terry Notary and Karin Konoval are back and just as great as Rocket and Maurice respectively really showing how much attentions and development has been put into these secondary characters over the films.
The only thing i was worried wouldn’t work in this film was the inclusion of ‘Bad Ape’ played by Steve Zahn who looked to have a more comedic role in the film. I didn’t know how this would play out as it looked like they were going very dark for this finale but it turned out fantastic. The humour wasn’t forced, there were no obvious jokes just there to make people laugh. The humour came out of the character and the mannerisms associated with the character, he didn’t need to try to be funny in order to make us laugh. He didn’t know what he was doing was funny and that’s why the character worked so damn well. Also need to give big props to Amiah Miller who plays the role of Nova, a mute and familiar name for those fans of the original Apes films. What she bought to her performance and this film without saying a single word is a great showing of talent for such a young age.
So in the end, i don’t think this film will make my top films of all time but it is as strong as a finale to this trilogy could be that succeeds across all departments. The special effects are flawless, the action is intense and brutal, and the narrative is deep and engaging with pacing that never once fails. Fans of the franchise will no doubt love this movie as it delivers on everything it promised it would.