War for the Planet of the Apes

The 448th film I have seen in theaters…

Apes together…strong

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Caesar, 15 years following the Simian flu and the fall of human civilization, leads a group of Apes in the Northern Californian forests. After years of war with the humans, the Apes have found a place, across the desert, to restart their colony and live in peace. As they prepare to depart, the humans attack their waterfall base, killing Caesar’s wife and son. Enraged, Caesar sends his people off to their new home while he heads out to find the human Colonel and exact revenge.

On the road, accompanied by Luca, Rocket, and Maurice, Caesar comes across a little girl, unable to speak. The mystery of this girl, Nova, and the agenda of the evil Colonel McCullough, propel the final act of the film. Amidst a “great escape” homage, the final battle occurs for dominion of the Planet…of the Apes!

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Andy Serkis deserves an Oscar for his work as Caesar. This Caesar is a far different one than we’ve seen before. Overcome with grief, Caesar begins to foster a deep hatred for humanity, a hatred he has always stood against.

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Wood Harrelson is “The Colonel”. This is a man pushed to the edge of sanity who is in command of an army and is sitting atop a massive weapons depot. Woody was great in this. Alongside him is “Red”, a gorilla follower of Koba, who has defected from Caesar’s colony and now works as a “Donkey” for the human army.

Karin Konoval in Twentieth Century Fox's "War for the Planet of the Apes."

Karin Konoval returns as Maurice, the Orangutan. The voice of reason, he tries to make Caesar see past his hate.

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Steve Zahn plays “Bad Ape”, a former zoo Ape that has been living 15 years on his own. Also possessing speech, his character steals every scene he is in.

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Nova is played by Amiah Miller. She never speaks in the film, but she is involved in some of the most emotionally powerful moments, like the flower scenes.

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Michael Adamthwaite is Luca, one of Caesar’s most trusted Gorillas. He bonds with Nova and if you did not tear up at his final scene with her you are not human. lol.

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Appearing in fevered dreams and hallucinations is Toby Kebbell as Koba, the antagonist ape from “Dawn”. It was good to see him back as the embodiment of Caesar’s fears.

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This, in many ways, was the best of the trilogy if you are a Apes purist. “Rise” showed us how humanity died out as the Apes rose. It was a human-centered film as the Apes were only just gaining higher brain functions. “Dawn” was an excellent look at the final moment where peace could exist between the species.  This film gives us the Alpha Omega missile base, the home of the future “mutant” humans from “Beneath”. The mutations in the Similan flu are causing humans to become mute, explaining how the humans in “Planet of the Apes” lost that ability. The large stretch of desert between the future site of “Ape City” and the Alpha Omega site also call back to a classic Apes locale. HELLO FORBIDDEN ZONE!

As in every Ape film since the start, themes of human self-destruction, prejudice, and what it means to be “humane” are central to the plot. This movie is primarily about the Apes trying to survive as the remnants of human power destroy each other. This also jives with the original plot of the Apes rising in a world after human society has killed itself off.

The performances were powerful, both tragic and touching. The cinematography was beautiful, best of the series. The CGI work on the Apes was the best yet. I am sad to see this trilogy come to a close, but I am confident the story will continue. Best movie of the year so far.

Ranking

  1. War for the Planet of the Apes
  2. Rise of the Planet of the Apes
  3. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
  4. Planet of the Apes (1968)
  5. Conquest of the Planet of the Apes
  6. Battle for the Planet of the Apes
  7. Escape from the Planet of the Apes
  8. Beneath the Planet of the Apes
  9. Planet of the Apes (2001)

speak now, or forever hold it

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