War for the Planet of the Apes is beyond a thrilling conclusion, it’s a masterpiece.
You know there are rare times where a sequel is as good as it’s predecessor, but it’s even more rare that it’s better. When the third movie in a trilogy is good, I stop believing in reality, but when it’s so brilliant that it makes the previous movies subpar, I genuinely don’t know what to say. That’s my lazy way of telling you War for the Planet of the Apes is a great film.
In the third installment of the Apes reboot, we find Caesar (Andy Serkis) leading his intelligent the apes in a war against the last surviving humans. He wants to just have peace, but it seems like the humans, led by a ruthless man they call “the Colonel,” (Woody Harrelson) will stop at nothing to eliminate him and his followers. The humans even have intelligent apes on their side that they call Donkeys, who don’t believe that Caesar is a proper leader.
I don’t want to discuss the story almost at all because it lives to be discovered in the moment. This entire movie is in the moment. Apart from one scene between Caesar and the Colonel, this movie focuses entirely on what is happening right now, and doesn’t rely on any background knowledge to further the story. It’s gut-wrenching, heartfelt, and emotional in all the right places, and perfectly balances the intense drama with moments of humor that makes the viewing a pleasure.
Andy Serkis as Caesar was an Oscar worthy performance since the first movie, but his character development just keeps growing. In Rise, he learned about the evils of humanity upon animals, in Dawn, he was learning how to be a proper leader, in War, he’s a wise, weary, and determined godlike figure to most of the apes. But he’s still humble. He walks the line between a friend and boss beautifully. Caesar has witnessed some brutal sights, and he’s done taking chances. Andy Serkis is one of the most underrated actors working today, but I hope people take the time to learn the art behind performance capture, so they can truly understand how much of what we see, is a genuine performance.
Woody Harrelson as the Colonel is at first seen as just an ape hating warfighter, who has no problem shooting anyone, but you learn more and more about him, and his motivation, while horrifying, is very believable.
My favorite character throughout the series has always been Maurice the Orangutan, who is Caesar’s closest confidant. In this movie, he’s given some truly beautiful moments, and one in particular, made swell up with tears. The kindness in his eyes is so pure, and the performance given by Karin Konoval is incredible.
Director Matt Reeves paces this movie very slowly, and to some that may be a turn off. The title of this movie is War, but don’t go in expecting a gigantic “apes vs humans in epic death-match” battle sequences. That is not what the title means. As the movie goes on and you really think about it, the purpose for calling this movie War, is pretty genius. There are small references to the original Planet of the Apes from 1968 that I like because it finally brings the series full circle. There is also great symbolism scattered throughout the movie, which constantly keeps the viewer pondering humanity’s place in the world, and what we can really do in order to survive. My only real flaw with this movie is the ending, which is just a little abrupt, and I think could’ve benefited from some edits to make it flow better. But it’s not a terrible ending, just a little abrupt.
I’m honestly in shock at how incredible this film is, and the fact that it’s the best in a trilogy of great films, makes it even better. Go see this movie. Like seriously.