Sunday, July 16, 2017

Movie Review: War for the Planet of the Apes

The final film in the trilogy that serves as a prequel to the sci-fi classic delivers a bleak story that explains how the furry creatures inherited the planet. Caesar (Andy Serkis) leads the apes as they are attacked by a battalion of humans. They manage to fight off the humans but Caesar spares a few to return a message to the Colonel (Woody Harrelson). Caesar does not want a war but is haunted by the legacy of Koba. When an ape betrays them and reveals the location, the Colonel kills Caesar's wife and son. The apes leave their home and set out for the desert but Caesar decides to turn back and hunt down the Colonel. Refusing to leave his side are Luca (Michael Adamthwaite) a gorilla, Rocket (Terry Notary) another chimp, and Maurice (Karin Konoval) an orangutan. The crew set out finding a deserter and killing him. Inside his house is Nova (Amiah Miller), a mute girl affected by a strange disease.

Maurice insists on taking the girl with them and the apes find the humans military camp. The Colonel has already moved on so Caesar and his group follow along towards a military base. Along the way, they encounter Bad Ape (Steve Zahn), a survivor of another group of apes that was wiped out by the humans. Bad Ape is a great source humor throughout the film that needs the lightheartedness when dealing with such a dire situation. The apes make it to the military base where they find apes imprisoned including Caesar's group. Luca is killed in a fight with the sentries. Caesar moves down there but is captured by the Red Donkey (Ty Olsson), a traitorous gorilla. 

Caesar stays imprisoned for a significant part of the film which slowed down the pace quite a bit for me. The Colonel has a monologue where he explains the mysterious disease that renders humans imbecilic and silent and how he went over the edge of sanity by killing his son now believing in a holy war. Other humans are coming towards the base to fight the Colonel's men but these humans also hate the apes. He and his right-hand man Preacher (Gabriel Chavarria) torture Caesar and the other apes as they work to build a wall. Caesar inspires resistance but after the Colonel shows his ruthlessness, they cease disobeying.

Meanwhile, Maurice, Bad Ape, and Rocket find a tunnel beneath the base where sick humans escaped the wrath of the Colonel. Nova walks into the base undetected and gives Caesar water and food to help him survive a rough night, and she somehow evades detection causing Rocket to give himself up. The plot speeds up a little as the apes organize an escape but the Colonel becomes infected with the disease from Nova's doll. The other human army launches an all-out assault on the military base just as the apes escape. Caesar allows the Colonel to kill himself then blows up the base with the help of Red Donkey who decides to work with his species. Caesar is injured by Preacher but blows up the base and escapes through the tunnel. 

The other army is about to attack Caesar but an avalanche wipes them out. The apes flee up into the trees and survive the rushing snow. They make their way across the desert to a lake. Caesar sees his apes are settled but is lethally wounded. He dies peacefully and happy. The trilogy really tells Caesar's amazing journey from a young ape being experimented on to a revolutionary leader starting a new society that will one day rule the planet. It was an amazing way to reboot the series and tell a new tale helped along by the awesome motion capture technology and a brilliant performance from Andy Serkis. The second film in the trilogy is still my favorite as I would have like to have seen more ape action in this one and less imprisonment and dreariness as Matt Reeves chose to play dramatic music over some of the most stunning scenes. I will enjoy revisiting these films one day but I think this should be the end. 

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