For decades, mankind’s greed and arrogance as superior beings with higher intelligence has resulted in countless wars, extreme poverty, disease, and of course, the looming threat on Earth, global warming.
The Planet of the Apes films, based on a 1963 French novel, illustrates the catastrophic results of mankind’s greed and continued exploitation on Earth, in which mankind’s eventual downfall will give rise to an intelligent species of apes, who will dominate and take over the planet.
War for the Planet of the Apes, directed by Matt Reeves, is the third installment of the Planet of the Apes reboot films (or rather, prequels) and is a sequel to the 2014 film, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.
This installment is set two years after the conclusion of events in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and sees the genetically enhanced Simian, Caesar (Andy Serkis), and his troop of apes knee deep in a war with the US Army, led by a ruthless Colonel (Woody Harrelson).
For Caesar, nothing is more important than protecting his fellow apes and to live in harmony. However, human beings have always feared what they do not understand and in this case, they fear the continued evolution and potential threat of the apes, leading to a merciless mission to wipe out Caesar and his troop.
The film poignantly portrays the shortcomings of human beings and the impact our greed has on the planet and world around us. This depiction of mankind as cruel is evident through the film’s plot and the Colonel’s actions throughout the film. Together with the previous two films, War for the Planet of the Apes should be praised for its storytelling and the way in which it brought closure to Caesar’s tale, setting in motion the events which occur in Planet of the Apes.
In addition to formidable storytelling, the film was well crafted, inspiring us as viewers to feel an array of emotions throughout the film. Caesar’s motivations and struggles were incredibly moving, as were the many sacrifices his family of apes made in order to see their leader succeed. The emotionally charged scenes throughout the film certainly tug at my heartstrings and made the film far more enjoyable.
The way in which each of the characters developed throughout the trilogy and the way in which they were masterfully portrayed by the actors who played them, was magnificent. Andy Serkis truly stole the show with his stellar performance of Caesar. However, Caesar was not the only character deserving of praise. Woody Harrelson brilliantly depicted the slightly deranged and unforgiving Colonel, who believes himself to be the saviour of mankind. Then, there was also a new face, Bad Ape (Steve Zahn), who was extremely likeable and proved to be great comic relief during highly tense moments.
Because the entire film was so adeptly developed, the themes of the film were easily identified and the inspiration behind the various plot sequences were obvious. Many aspects of the film, particularly those showcasing the dynamic between Caesar and the Colonel, included biblical themes and references, which could be said to have been inspired by films such as Ben-Hur and The Ten Commandments. Caesar’s portrayal, particularly in this film, is almost thematically similar to that of the Jewish prophet, Moses, and the sacrifices he was willing to make for his people. However, there were several parts of the film, which seemed to have also taken inspiration from much older films such as The Great Escape. In this way, the creation of War for the Planet of the Apes certainly involved a good deal of research, which made the film all the more spectacular and unlike other science-fiction films I’ve seen in the past couple of years.
The visual effects and CGI used in the film was outstanding. The movements of the apes and their mannerisms appeared incredibly life-like and very much reminiscent of human beings. The action sequences were brilliant and showed a great disparity between technologically advanced weaponry used by the US Army and the primitive weapons used by the apes. The fantastic landscapes, from the rich, green forestry to the icy, cold, mountains, were especially scenic.
War for the Planet of the Apes is an incredibly well made film, which brings a satisfying close to the story which began in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. With an emotionally charged narrative, great use of biblical themes and references, fantastic special effects and a warning of the underlying threat of destruction with continued human interference, this film has been one of the best science-fiction films of the year, making the Planet of the Apes prequels one of the better prequels I’ve seen in years. The series was a fabulous watch and renewed my interest in the Planet of the Apes story. I highly recommend any science-fiction film fan to watch, not only War for the Planet of the Apes, but the other films within the Planet of the Apes franchise as well.