This third installment in this Planet of the Apes prequel-ish trilogy is deeply layered in emotion, relationships, and gives the importance of unity—a rightful end to a film trilogy. The complex characterizations, well-paced plot, moving music, and the incredibly intricate special effects reveal the true essence of humanity through a society of highly intelligent apes.
The film takes place 15 years after a deadly virus wipes out most of humanity and evolves apes to become smarter. The experienced ape leader of the evolved apes known as Caesar (Andy Serkis) faces an emotional blow to his family after an army of humans led by the malevolent “Colonel” (Woody Harrelson) attacks his tribe. The heartbroken Caesar then travels on a vengeful road to kill the Colonel.
From the beginning to end, the film’s equilibrium of intensity and character development was provided significantly by the cast of actors. Serkis’ performance of Caesar revealed the ape as conflicted, broken, and caring. Serkis was able to use his motion-capture suit to convey even the smallest detail of emotion to the point where Serkis looked and sounded like a realistic ape. His third time with this endearing character made me actually feel that Caesar was a tangible character that tries to see the best in people and first and foremost puts his family and group before himself.
Other standout performances include Steve Zahn’s portrayal of Bad Ape, an unlikely ally to Caesar. Zahn balances emotions expertly while also standing as a slight comedic relief. Woody Harrelson also plays a cold and psychopathic role as the Colonel, committing awful acts for his own reasonings to save humankind.
From the beginning to end, the film’s equilibrium of intensity and character development was provided significantly by the cast of actors
Director Matt Reeves is able to combine a Western type of film with a vengeance story and has a well-paced plot that rises gradually. The plot never feels dull and is intriguing with allegorical themes of the Holocaust placed well throughout the film. At the same time, the plot does not rush its time for action and never feels like it has to. Composer Michael Giacchino’s work yet again feels essential to the film that conveys the tension, heartbreak, excitement, and sadness of each scene to the audience.
Reeves gives the audience beautifully descriptive shots that provide even more to the characters when special effects are added. The use of special effects in this film was incredibly complex to the point where each movement from every ape character felt fully real.
My only small gripe was that some scenes were dragged out a little long at times, making the film feel longer than it actually was.
Overall, this film is layered with detailed characters, plot, music, and special effects that can finally make the third film in a trilogy feel like the most compelling and vital installment. That is why War for the Planet of the Apes deserves an A.
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‘War for the Planet of the Apes’ Review: A Rightful End to a Film Trilogy: Featured image courtesy of 20th Century Fox