Finally, after a recent lengthy spell of average or just plain disappointing blockbusters, along comes War for the Planet of the Apes to show them how it’s done. The first two movies in this new trilogy have been consistently strong and enjoyable and War continues to deliver on that high quality, proving itself to be the best of the trilogy.
Despite it’s name, there’s not really a huge amount of war on show here. Unless of course we’re referring to the inner conflict and turmoil experienced by Caesar. The movie begins with some human soldiers sneaking through the woods to try and take out the apes. They get their asses kicked and Caesar lets a few of them go in the hope that their crazed colonel (Woody Harrelson) will see just how merciful the apes are and understand that they just want to live their lives in peace and harmony. Unfortunately, things don’t quite go to plan and the colonel returns later that night with a surprise attack on the apes home while they’re sleeping. Some heavy ape casualties are sustained, and Caesar is pissed. Grief stricken, and out for revenge, he wants to go in search of the colonel while the rest of the apes head off to a potential new home out in the desert.
From there our story shifts down a gear, as Caesar and a small number of his trusted allies set off on horseback to track down the colonel. By this point though, you’ve already forgotten that these are not real apes, such is the exceptional quality of the effects on display here. The emotions are all there and the detail is perfect, totally believable. To all intents and purposes, these are real apes, and what they’re experiencing feels real.
Along the way they manage pick up a young orphan mute girl and a former zoo ape called ‘Bad Ape’, who manages to provide much of the scarce humour found throughout the movie. When they do find the colonel and his base, the movie becomes more a prisoner of war, great escape style story rather than all out war. Yet it still manages to be extremely intense, highly emotional and hugely enjoyable.
By now, Andy Serkis and his team of performers are experts at bringing these apes to life and Caesar has now developed further than any other character in the trilogy. Serkis portrays equal amounts of rage and compassion beautifully, aided by the pixel perfect rendering of Caesar. Harrelson is the only human of any real note here, despite the large number of human soldiers under his command, and he manages to bring just the right amount of intense crazy and depth to the role.
The trilogy comes to a pretty satisfying and emotional close, with potential for further Apes movies. Overall though this has proved to be one of the strongest trilogies I’ve seen in a long time.