‘War for the Planet of the Apes’ offers epic conclusion for trilogy
The third installment in the rebooted “Planet of the Apes” franchise, “War for the Planet of the Apes” has landed in theaters and is ready to close off this epic trilogy with a bang.
Quite some time after the events of “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” Caesar (Andy Serkis) continues to lead his powerful tribe of apes into war as the struggling human population attempts to fight back. However, after a tragic event occurs among the apes, Caesar, Maurice and Rocket go on a mission for revenge against a vicious colonel (Woody Harrelson) as the rest of the apes try and locate a safer home. On the way, they meet up with some unique characters including a mute girl they call Nova and a runaway chimp named Bad Ape as Caesar begins to realize the darker side of his personality.
The first two films in this reboot trilogy, while containing their own flaws, have been great examples of how to do prequels right. Both “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” and “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” have successfully helped modern-day audiences take the nearly half-century old franchise much more seriously by giving the characters a great amount of depth, conflict and backstory. Combined with some high-octane action and brilliant motion capture work, this series has given us some of the best films of the entire decade. So how does the third entry stack up to the legacy of its predecessors?
The film has plenty of strengths that help it stand out from the previous installments. For one, its motion capture work is possibly the best ever put on film. The staggering amount of detail put into these apes is unbelievably life-like. This is all thanks to the collaboration between some masterful effects artists and the exquisite performances given by the motion capture actors, especially Andy Serkis. Since the film’s focus is more on the apes this time around, the visual storytelling aspect plays a bigger role and Andy Serkis does this perfectly. Just the torn up, tired look in his eyes are enough to tell his story and the character’s full development from the first film feels very well-earned.
The entire film also has a bleak, hopeless feel to it that feels very appropriate given that it is a war. Several powerful emotional beats occur that don’t hold anything back and truly keep you breathless throughout. The film makes sure to focus more on the characters rather than a bunch of crazy action, which makes the drama have more weight. Everyone, even the main villain, is given some sort of backstory so that you feel sympathy for their actions.
There are some issues with the film, however. While most of the drama feels strong and grounded, there are a few moments when it feels a tad forced. Similarly, one of the new characters, Bad Ape, a character that does help move the plot and not a horrible comic relief in the class of Jar Jar Binks, still feels somewhat awkwardly integrated into the story at times. Finally, one particular event happens near the end that almost comes out of nowhere and feels rushed.
“War for the Planet of the Apes” is nonetheless a rather powerful and fitting conclusion to a solid trilogy. With its dark tone, intense action, good musical score and developed characters, there’s plenty to like about the film that helps it stay remembered. For fans of fitting conclusions, this is a spectacle not to miss.
Andy Serkis' beautiful performance
Strong visual storytelling
Good musical score
Some rushed plot points
Some forced moments