It is perhaps surprising how good the Planet of the Apes prequel/remake/reboots are. We here at Gabbing Geek have already discussed the first two movies rather extensively. Hopefully, we’ll be able to discuss the third one together soon.
In the meantime, here’s a SPOILER FREE review for War of the Planet of the Apes.
Like the previous two movies, whatever you thought was going on based on the trailers, you’re probably wrong here. Caesar and his ape community have been mostly hiding in the forest, doing everything they can to avoid the armed humans who keep coming after them. The last remnants of the United States Army, led by a Colonel (Woody Harrelson) who is mostly referred to as “the Colonel,” the attacks have been getting closer to home in a very literal sense, and when it gets close enough to home, Caesar will throw away his belief in mercy to hunt down the Colonel himself and seek revenge with only a handful of his loyalest apes with him.
Presenting another multi-faceted look at the world that sudden ape evolution and mass human death have brought, this isn’t necessarily a clear case of good vs. evil, though the Colonel may be the closest this series has had to a clear-cut villain. He may be out to get the apes, but switch the perspective around and he may be something of an anti-hero with understandable (if unhinged) motives. That’s always been a strength to these movies: they are more cerebral than anything else, despite appearances. It would be too easy to turn these movies into crazy action movies starring apes, and while there is some of that sort of stuff in the final act of the movie, it’s a long, deliberate trek to get there, and the movie is much better for it.
Director Matt Reeves has brought what could be an end to this series an emotional highpoint with a movie that seems to site both Apocalypse Now and the Bible. Apes fans will be pleased with this one. Andy Serkis delivers another fine performance as Caesar, and heck, Karin Konoval gets some nice scenes herself as the soulful orangutan Maurice. About the only thing I didn’t care for was a more “comic relief” ape named Bad Ape (Steve Zahn). He’s important to the plot, but I could have done with less of him. Nine out of ten traitorous donkeys.