The war comes home for Caesar, but not in the way you might think
Note: Minor spoilers for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.
War For The Planet of The Apes is the penultimate film in this prequel series to the immensely popular Planet of The Apes. Matt Reeves returns to direct and he brings back Andy Serkis in the main role as Caesar, the leader of the apes. The previous instalment saw the humans seeking out Caesar in order to restore power to their settlement, however that ended in Caesar being betrayed by Koba, resulting in the start of a war between apes and humans. This film follows Caesar as he tries to keep his apes and family safe whilst Colonel McCullough, played by Woody Harrelson, seeks to eradicate the apes.
Now, the title of this movie is War For The Planet of The Apes, which would lead one to believe that there are going to be giant action scenes and set pieces filled with CGI and explosions and blockbuster gusto, and you get that to a certain extent. This is definitely the most surprising film in the entire trilogy. It is dark, it is gritty, and it takes it’s time to set up its characters. It is not about the big action scenes and set pieces, it is about the characters and specifically about Caesar as this final film closes his arc that he began in Rise of The Planet of The Apes. A huge positive for this film when compared to the previous two is that it is almost exclusively about the apes and told from their point of view. My biggest issues with the last two instalments was that I just didn’t care enough about the human characters in it, and I was always left wanting to see more of Caesar and the other apes.
I won’t delve into the plot or story of this film any more than I have so as not to spoil anything, this movie has to be seen as it is truly something to behold. Matt Reeves directed the hell out of this film. He has shown that he knows how to piece together character development, plot and big action scenes into one coherent film, and it’s more than coherent, as this could almost be considered a masterpiece of blockbuster filmmaking. The CGI in this film, as in the last two, is the best I have ever seen. I don’t look at the apes in this film and think to myself “Oh that’s just an actor and he’s been made to look like an ape with CGI”. It’s as if these are living, breathing apes. The people behind the CGI really need to be commended for their hard work because it has truly paid off.
To speak about the acting in this film, Andy Serkis is once again, absolutely phenomenal. Fans have called for Serkis to be nominated for an Oscar for his motion capture work in the past, and he’d never have a stronger claim than he does now. The emotion that he is able to portray through Caesar is absolutely incredible. All the ape performances in this movie are astounding, a personal favourite of mine being Karin Konoval as Maurice the orangutan. A risky move was the inclusion of the new character Bad Ape, played by Steve Zahn, who was almost made out to be the comic relief element of the film. This could have ended up backfiring but fortunately he was not overused and his inclusion fit into the story. To speak about the humans, Woody Harrelson has the majority of the lines here as the rest of the human roles are filled by soldiers. Harrelson is at his typical best here, showing his versatility in a fairly unique role for the actor.
To conclude, I was so surprised by this film. It was not what I was expecting at all, and it blew me away at the end. Matt Reeves has proven here that not only can you have a great trilogy of films, but that sometimes prequels made many years after the original can also pay off. I personally can’t find anything wrong with this movie, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it received a few nominations come the Oscars. My advice to you is that if you’re going to go see it, don’t be misled by the title, have an open mind and just let yourself be sucked into this fantastically crafted end to a trilogy.
The Yuppie’s Verdict: 10/10
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