Welcome to the sequel to the sequel to the prequel that was a reboot of a reboot that was a re-imagining of a adaptation. Those damn dirty apes are back and now, fifteen years after the Simian Flu ravaged mankind, hyper-intelligent ape, Caesar is living with his fellow hyper-intelligent apes in the woods when, as fate would have it, those damn dirty humans start showing up and try to kill them. Things have changed and the woods are no longer safe for the apes. It’s like moving day from The Secret of N.I.H.M., only with apes. Needless to say, and saying as little as possible to avoid spoilers, bad times are coming for our hairy ape friends and war is here! Or something.
Honestly, folks, these movies are way better than they probably deserve to be and, with this movie — and not being a spoiler as it’s being advertised in all of the trailers and commercials — we close a chapter in the Apes saga and complete a trilogy. It’s probably one of the strongest trilogies out there… right along with Lord of the Rings, the original Star Wars Trilogy, Madagascar, and Kung Fu Panda. In a way, though, this has been one of the most intimate looks at a character I’ve seen in cinematic history. If you really think about it, we’ve accompanied Caesar from newborn all the way through his rise as a leader, a father, and his ultimate destiny. It’s been a very interesting ride and, of course, all the more interesting because he’s an ape and a movie about a stinking ape shouldn’t be this good.
And it is, my friends. It is good. War for the Planet of the Apes may not be the war movie you were expecting or was hoping for, but in many ways, that makes it better than what you were expecting or hoping for because, here, we see Caesar at his most vulnerable and his most exposed. Here, we see a Caesar pushed to the point that he abandons his compassion and his principles and everything that makes him who he is. This is Caesar’s personal journey… a downfall and a redemption. War, as it turns out, is secondary to the war in Caesar’s own heart.
With War for the Planet of the Apes, we get a satisfying conclusion. Some may not like it, but it’s appropriate to the theme of the films that came before it and I always love it when a film subverts expectations to this degree.
The bad knee of these movies have always been the human characters and War for the Planet of the Apes has solved that problem by making them a much lesser concern. We don’t spend long stretches with them, we don’t really even get to know them with the exception of Woody Harrelson’s character… the human’s don’t matter because this is the Ape’s movie. Of course, I’m not mentioning the nameless child that accompanies Caesar through most of the movie… I don’t want to spoil much, but let’s just say she’s special and integral.
I loved this movie. It’s different, it’s intimate, it’s inspiring — in a weird way — and it caps off this trilogy masterfully.