War of the Planet of the Apes heralds the return of Caesar. Everyone’s favorite accidental genius chimpanzee from the new Planet of the Apes trilogy is back. As trilogies go this is a good one. Most trilogies have a good to great first film only to trend downwards into the third. Thankfully this one has a steady quality throughout the three films. At least that’s my humble opinion. Then again I like action science fiction movies as I have been enthralled the genre and even published my very own science fiction novel as a result. Are there plot holes? Senseless ploys for cheap attempts at emotional connection? Absolutely but I believe if you are a fan of the first two films, you will like this one as well. If you have not seen the first two films, stop what you’re doin cause I’m about to ruin…never mind go see the first two before this one for continuity and better enjoyment. Seriously book mark this review rent the first two digitally and go see Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn before heading into to see their conclusion with this film. Then come back to finish this review to see if you agree with my analysis.
Now for the rest of you that have seen the first two films you already know how Caesar came to be the intelligent leader of the apes in Rise, then the problems that came with his right hand ape Koba who could not forgive humans for the atrocities committed against them in the name of science which ironically also gave them the means to escape. Wait…some of you still kept reading despite my earlier warning? I wasn’t playing! Go watch Rise, Dawn then War of the Planet of the Apes then come back to us!!! Sorry some folks are hard headed. Caesar is still haunted by his resolution of the conflict between him and Koba at the end of Dawn. Things have become more complicated and Caesar now has a family in addition to the large communities of simians under his care. The problem is the experiments resulted in more than just supremely intelligent monkeys. Unfortunately there was also an outbreak of what was called the simian flu which threatens to end human existence.
Enter the main antagonist in this film a maniacal Colonel played by Woody Harrelson who does an awesome job by the way. This Colonel has the opinion that the apes are a viable threat and will stop at nothing to destroy them to save his people. Caesar can either stay and fight or find a way to lead his apes away to safety somehow. That’s as far as my overview will go so as not to spoil the film for those of you who either want to go see it for yourselves. If you were on the fence I hope this encourages you, but if it doesn’t sound like your cup of tea I understand that as well.
In the beginning when you see the helmets of some of the soldiers it seems like a homage to Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket, and as a former Marine I like it. This film found ways to connect the characters with the audience some of them worked, and some not so much. Much of the emotional weight from the previous films carry over into this one through the introduction to new characters and the revisiting of old ones. With as strange as a plot line these films had it holds up an oddly accurate mirror to reality and illustrates how we treat each other, both people the same as us and people with differences. The idea of making efforts to accept those who may or not be a part of those who oppress you yet are innocent themselves. Are they truly innocent or do they just remain that way until later?
Not sure what your opinions of those things are but it’s nice to see them even if clothed in the guise of science fiction or fantasy in order to get us to think about them without feeling threatened which often happens when people attempt to outright discuss them. This was all interesting as well as looking at the perception of those who are members of the oppressed to group yet aid and abet the oppressors. Another poignant subject to be sure given the racial and political climate today. This film has emotional weight to it along with action though not as much as the first two films in my opinion, and the CGI was well done in most spots.
There were a few moments where it was really obvious but we knew there would be a heavy dose of CGI here with talking monkeys so that’s not a knock on the film. One of the best examples of their CGI work was the introduction to a new character who’s name slips my memory and I don’t recall him ever giving his name, but I do remember him saying “bad ape” a lot. He was a bit of comic relief and an example of how most caught in the middle of these kinds of conflicts after getting out of them would react. Most people are not heroes and would not be eager to go on some crazy rescue operation so I am sure his exclamations of “No, no, no!” were understood as I heard some folks chuckling in the theater. This film is a viewing worthy of going to the movies for. Like I said before if you’re on the fence I would advise giving it a try, but if science fiction or fantasy is not your thing waiting until it comes to digital or disk release might be the better choice. As always leave your thoughts below. Until next time!