The last installment of the Planet of the Apes trilogy is here. So is it as good as the last two?
War for the Planet of the Apes picks up two years after the end of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Caesar and his apes have spent that time living in isolation away from humans until a group of soldiers track them down. Led by a merciless man only known as The Colonel, the soldiers make their final bloody and cruel play to wipe out the apes. As a result, Caesar decides to go on a journey to avenge the death of his fellow apes while battling his own emotions.
The combination of motion capture actors and highly skilled FX artists (Weta Digital) to turn them into computer generated apes created wonderfully realistic beings, in fact, they look as life like as their real human counterparts in the film. This means there is not a moment where audiences are distracted by certain fake visuals or disconnected from the emotional story being told.
Ceaser is the heart of the movie as he struggles to peaceful coexist with humans while they are after him and his community. It quickly becomes clear from the violent opening fight scene that the main emotion Ceaser is battling with is revenge. Often manifested as hallucinations of Koba, the ape who was abused by humans and hated all of them for it.
What really will draw you in and make you feel invested in the apes is their selflessness, heroism, love and their desire to live in peace. They are portrayed as wiser and more humane than actual humans, even in the face of hatred and genocide. It’s a fictional story but certainly hits a nerve.
Director Matt Reeves’ choice to use cinematography to additionally convey the tone in different moments of the story is superbly done without it being too noticeable to viewers. From the use of beautiful wide shots of colourful forests and mountains where the apes freely live, to the dark and dreary concentration camps where the apes are enslaved by humans, all serve to highlight the sentiments of the story. This technique works very well in War on the Planet of the Apes so make sure to take some tissues with you.
There are less action sequences compared to last installment, however, whether it involves mother nature or humans, they are impressively choreographed, shot and delivered in this chapter. It’s impossible to tell the difference between what’s real and computer generated.
The “king of motion capture” Andy Serkins returns as the remarkable Ceaser, while Karin Konoval is back to play Maurice, the giant orangutan with a heart of gold. Woody Harrelson plays The Colonel, a character so human and unlikable that there is not a moment where one would feel sorry for him or his soldiers. The only human who is likable is Nova (Amiah Miller), a persecuted gentle girl who becomes part of the apes family. War on the Planet of the Apes is a bleak story but there is a little light and humour courtesy of a new lovable character who goes by the name of Bad Ape (Steve Zahn).
In summary, War on the Planet of the Apes is a strong and emotional conclusion of a consistently compelling story which spans across three movies. It can easily stands as one of best movies this year.
I rate it 8.5/10
War for the Planet of the Apes is in cinemas as of today.