One definition of war, as defined by Merriam Webster, is a struggle or competition between opposing forces or for a particular end. In “War for the Planet of the Apes,” the final film in the fantastically rebooted Planet of the Apes trilogy, the remaining intelligent ape community must engage in the battle of all battles to obtain the particular end they’ve been fighting for three movies – freedom – while hero and leader Caesar (Andy Serkis) faces his toughest conflict and confronts his most villainous enemy to date.
In this third movie, we come to learn that the apes are still being hunted by humans for destruction, and the fatal disease strain – created by humans to their detriment, however immune to apes – that has wiped out much of humanity has evolved to a contagious disease that renders anyone who contracts “speechless” – one of the first tie-ins to the original 1968 Planet of the Apes film.
After a night raid on the ape hideaway leads to unfortunate and unexpected loss, Caesar heads out on a solo campaign to kill the man responsible, The Colonel played with mischievous delight by the dynamic Woody Harrelson – who seems to revel in portraying characters that audiences love to dislike and/or hate.
Believing that he’s headed on a suicide mission, and unable to let him stand alone, Caesar is joined by faithful friends Maurice, Luca and Rocket. Along their journey, they encounter a girl – whom Maurice comes to name Nova, another tie-in to the original – who unknowingly becomes a pivotal part in the apes’ endeavors.
Unlike many third films in trilogies, “War for the Planet of the Apes” displays a solid narrative, that doesn’t lose focus of the main storyline while bringing it to a satisfying, albeit bittersweet, conclusion. It also cleverly allows additional films to be created if the studio so chooses, by arcing back into the 1968 story.
And our hero Caesar, being the “promoter of peace”for much of the franchise, has his limits tested and his internal conflict is thoroughly explored – including imaginings of anti-hero and fallen ape Koba (Toby Kebbell).
At times, I felt some of the story was a little long, but I honestly can’t say that there is anything that needed to be removed and it all worked towards the good of the narrative. Okay, honestly the character Bad Ape was a little too ditzy for my taste, but he definitely works as comic relief in what is a much darker film than the prior two.
So don’t be deceived, this movie is in fact “war,” and if battle scenes, imprisonment, and conflict are not your cup of tea this film may not be for you. However, if you enjoyed their “rise” in the first film, and reveled in the “dawn” of their planet in the second, then this final ape film – and the culmination of their journey to live free, which ultimately means dominating the planet – will definitely please.
I’m going to stop there, because I have nothing but spoilers left, but anyone who follows me on Instagram – and saw how Darryl and I left this press screening – has a hint of what’s to come! #ApesTogetherStrong #TeamCaesar
Until next thought, Thomasena