‘WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES’ (2017) SPOILER REVIEW – Biblical References Are Plentiful
War for the Planet of the Apes has come and gone and with it one of the all time greatest trilogies. From Rise to Dawn to War we have three incredible films all different in terms of tone and focus that manage to develop deep complex characters throughout the entire trilogy. There were a few things in this film i wasn’t able to talk about in my NON-SPOILER REVIEW so here i am with this spoiler review to get into all of the awesome stuff that goes down in the film. Obviously you should have realised by now that this post will contain spoilers so turn back now if you haven’t already seen the movie.
One really cool revelation in this film that connects to one of the key aspects of the original Apes films is why the humans are eventually unable to speak. For those who do not know, in the original Planet of the Apes the humans were all mute, they could not speak and in terms of explaining why, the film essentially puts the blame on evolution or devolution as 2000 years had past under Ape control and a lot has changed. But here there is a much deeper and interesting explanation for the humans loss of speech. It all goes back to the virus that allowed the apes to take over in the first place, it has since begun to mutate in some humans and when it does those humans lose their ability to speak. And this mutated form of the virus is also contagious simply by coming into contact with those infected, making it very plausible and probable that eventually it will spread and consume the entire human race’s ability to speak. This small detail added so much more complexity to the film and introduced a real threat to the humans other than the apes. It gave Nova a more important role in the film, ultimately being the one who kills the Colonel, but it also was used to add some moral complexity to the Colonels character so he isn’t just a blind evil leader.
One thing Dawn of the Planet of the Apes did really well was show another side to the humans especially Gary Oldman’s character who is really trying to save the human race from extinction. Now the methods used to achieve this goal could be a little questionable but when you consider the conditions they are in you accept it. With this film though i wasn’t sure they were going to give us another side of the Colonel, i thought they’d show us the completely evil warlord side and leave it at that. But a lot of his character motivations and mentality you understand from a key scene you get between he and Caesar where he discusses his past experiences in this changed world. The scene itself is pretty exposition heavy but where before this scene i saw the guy as a total dick, coming out of the scene i actually understood where he was coming from. He wasn’t killing his men because they couldn’t speak, he was making a 3 man sacrifice to save the rest of his men. So really, even though there are definitely other ways to deal with the problem without being a douche about it Matt Reeves does a good job at getting you to understand where he’s coming from.
One other aspect i found very interesting was the way you go into the film expecting an all out war between humans and apes with guns blazing but what you get is really more of a war against nature where humans and apes find themselves on the opposite ends of the spectrum. The real war is, well, between the humans. Much like todays world you have two leaders with an opposing view on how to deal with the issues at hand and so they go to war with each other. Some people may call this a bait and switch but i personally like the idea that this wasn’t at all spoiled in the promotional material. But what i love most is the symbolism of how this war ended and really how the entire film handled the ape vs human war is that the apes didn’t really do much of the killing. In fact, the war ended with all of the humans ultimately killing each other, it really speaks numbers to how in this world humanity continues to be its own downfall.
Now we get to the ape himself, Caesar, who in this film is so evolved that he is essentially fluent in english and has an outlook on life and existence that is still flawed but more clear and rational than any ideas put forth by the human characters. But what i really loved about the use of his character in this film is how Matt Reeves so strongly connects him to a Jesus-like figure where the biblical connections to Moses etc are plentiful. Whether it be the moment Caesar is tied up on a cross for public display and taunted with water, or the moment he stands up for his people and takes a silent beating in place of one of his fellow ape it is very obvious what Reeves was trying to accomplish with the character. And i thought it worked amazingly well, it was a strong thoughtful comparison being presented throughout the film that didn’t take over all of the action. And the way the death of Caesar was handled was done absolutely perfectly. The way he uses all of his remaining strength to finish guiding his people to safety, to a new home, to a new paradise, where he ultimately dies was a perfect way to end it. Seeing him pass away peacefully, looking over the new civilisation he has created and the paradise he has bought them to was such an emotional, biblical ending and brings Caesar’s three film journey to an end.
So there you have it, we are now at the end of one of the greatest trilogies of all time and wherever this franchise goes from here i will be there day one to witness its greatness. With names like Cornelius and Nova being thrown around in this film it’s really exciting to see if they stick with following these characters through to the events of ‘Planet of the Apes’ or they take this franchise in a different direction. If you want to see my score for this film feel free to check out my NON-SPOILER review.