Following on from the events of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Caesar and his ape population take refuge in the woods only to be massacred by human soldiers, led by Woody Harrelson’s the “Colonel”. Still alive and unbowed, Caesar then gathers his remaining troops and begins a quest for retribution, which will in turn decide the fate of the entire planet.
In comparison with the original Planet of The Apes films from the 1970’s, Matt Reeves’s films are not literal remakes but instead re-interpretations that emphasise different aspects of the ape-human conflict. Whereas the older movies focused of their human rights subtext, today’s modern-day ape films are more focussed on injustice, betrayal, and the roots they play in Shakespearian tragedy.
Andy Serkis… an even more palpable portrayal with no CGI barrier to his believability.
With each of the new ‘Planet of The Apes’, the special effects have continued to get better. Now at the nadir of the trilogy with ‘War For The Planet of The Apes”, any visible special effects have completely disappeared and the performances of the actors really shine through. None more so than with Andy Serkis, who solidifies his previous performances as Caesar with an even more palpable portrayal and no CGI barrier to his believability. Fittingly cast against him, Woody Harrelson brings in an equally solid turn as the Colonel, complete with a decent back story and a nuanced performance, whose shared credibility that only serves to heighten the entire film. With a visual look and aesthetic, not that far removed form ‘Apocalypse Now’, the relationship between the two characters bears an uncanny resemblance to one another: both are mirror images of the other and yet at the same time poles apart.
With a similarly generous running time as Coppola’s movie, ‘War For The Planet of The Apes’ also is free to explore all of its supporting cast of characters, employing both humour and drama, so that their fates feel even more resonant as the final act beckons.
Whilst ‘War For The Planet of The Apes’ could have been arguably shorter, there’s no denying the seriousness in which Matt Reeves has approached this third movie. Vastly removed from Tim Burton’s previous apes re-boot, ‘War For The Planet of The Apes’ is entrenched in a gritty realism that both convinces and entertains. Where many franchises run out of steam by the third, if not second movie, Reeves and Serkis have managed kept their powder dry for a hugely satisfying and explosive tour de force that rewards your attention.
For this third movie, Apes ‘are’ stronger together.