War for the Planet of the Apes is the final film in the very entertaining series of prequels to the 1968 classic. Directed by Matt Reeves, who also directed the predecessor, the film is about the seasoned ape leader Caesar and his battle to keep those around him safe whilst also going through his own internal battles.
War of the Planet of the Apes is a gripping conclusion to the trilogy and undoubtedly the best of the series. It has so much to say about oppression and what happens when you go against your own morals. The direction is excellent, the CGI is possibly the best as of late, the acting is phenomenal, and it has a very strong story.
Watching Caesar struggle with the demons of his past is one of the most intriguing aspects of the film, as he is pushed to the very edge and begins to question his own values. We see decisions and conflicts of his past haunt him all throughout the film. He is a grieving leader who has many looking up to him for guidance while struggling with the battles of his inner demons. Caesar looks worn; Grey hairs surround the face of the young ape we knew in Rise of the plant of the Apes (2011), and his actions come across desperate and furious . Andy Serkis is able to effectively display this through his excellent motion capture performance. The performance put on by Serkis is brave, strong and emotional. His ability to convey emotion without saying a word is outstanding. This might be the first time a motion capture performance receives an academy award nomination, and it would be well deserved.
My complaints from the previous two films were that the human characters were never as interesting as the apes. Each time humans came on screen, I wanted the film to cut back to the apes, but in this film the humans finally hold their own throughout. Woody Harrelson puts on his best performance since the first season of True Detective (2014) as the twisted colonel of a military unit. His character is consistently cruel yet reserved, at times drawing the audience in, making you consistently want to get to know more about his character. The best antagonists are the ones we can relate to, and sometimes you can understand why the colonel is doing the actions he does.
The supporting characters add a lot to this film as well. The multiple apes around Caesar are all memorable. One of the most enjoyable characters is the orangutan Maurice as he was a voice of reason for Caesar. His relationship with Caesar is one of the best aspects of the entire trilogy.
The CGI in this project is top notch. The apes look so amazing and life-like that it makes you look twice to make sure it’s actually CGI and not real. The attention to detail helps push the visual effects to another level. The audience is able to tell which ape is which because of little details like a few braids or a scar. The action is also excellent in this project; There is a chase in the second act that is shot superbly, and the final action set piece was thrilling. This is due to the excellent direction by Matt Reeves. As the film went on, Reeves continually portrays stunning scenic shots that capture the post-apocalyptic land wonderfully. Reeves has you consistently thinking that he can’t top the previous shots in the film, yet as the film goes on the shots get better and better. The continuous, gorgeous scenery, thrilling action and creative camera work help cement Reeves as one of the best filmmakers working today. Reeves also brings the series full circle by leaving clues and Easter eggs that refer to what is coming for the doomed planet. The director leaves no loose ends and provides a gripping conclusion to this series
War for the Planet of the Apes is the one of the best films released this year thus far. Personally speaking, it also cements the prequel trilogy as one of the greatest trilogy’s ever made. Caesar is one of the best written character arcs of modern cinema. Watching him go from a baby in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2011) to a grizzled leader in this project was a delightful experience.
This film takes CGI to heights not seen before, and it’s masterfully directed, has world class performances, interesting and intriguing characters and a very strong plot. Hopefully Matt Reeves can carry this momentum on to his next project, The Batman. This is your chance to support great cinema. War for the Planet of the Apes is truly quality filmmaking, and is without a doubt worth the price of admission.
Apes. Together. Strong
(Feature Image: 20th Century Fox)