War for the Planet of the Apes

July 14, 20176 min

George S. Patton once said that the object of war was not to die for your country, but to make the other bastard die for his. That quote talks about dying for one’s country, the question that can be a struggle to answer is which side is good and which is evil? Maybe the better question is does that even matter? Often that line is always changing and is easily crossed whether you kill or die for your side.

War in most cases can be because the two sides don’t understand the other side and only see them as a threat. The humans in both “Rise” and “Dawn” of the Planet of the Apes have seen their way of life disappear and they become second banana on earth. While things started to take a better turn in “Dawn”, the years have pushed the two sides further apart. Now armies led by a Colonel (Woody Harrelson) are taking the fight to Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his fellow apes. When the humans’ find their secret lair and attack, the apes know they must move to survive and leave the only place they have called home. Caesar though has other things on his mind, revenge is a dish best serve cold and it is very cold in the mountains. Escorted by his inner circle they start their search for man’s hideout. Along they way they meet a girl (Amiah Miller) who they welcome into their group. When they finally track down the hideout what takes place can only be described as the final great battle between man and ape.

In 2011 when this series began with “Rise”, the idea of creating a world that lead up to 1968’s “Planet of the Apes sounded like something we never knew we needed, or on the case of the Tim Burton version, something we never wanted. Having reached what felt like the best ‘Apes’ film to date after “Dawn” I thought the only way they could go was down. Well while “War” does take a very slight step back, writers Mark Bomback and Matt Reeves, the later also directing, pay serious homage to great war movies of cinema’s past in their telling of this story. With nods to films like “The Great Escape”, “Bridge Over the River Kwai”, and “Apocalypse Now”. And though they may have been inspired by those movies, “War” is every bit its own film.

Once again Serkis commands the screen even with the knowledge that Caesar is created by motion capture, Sirkis makes him every bit human with his performance and the brilliant CGI. While it might be easy to rank this on its individuality, the series is better looked at as a whole and delivers the best trilogy in fifteen years. There are not many weaknesses in all three films, but “War” does face the challenge of wrapping up everything that came before it. The only real soft spot has always been in its villains, as Harrelson’s character feels like a small pothole in the road that is Caesar’s life. Having stronger villains is just a small complaint as the rest of these films are so good it is hard to complain about anything. “War” is the perfect feather in the cap that is this “Apes” series and when it is over there is no question about whose planet it is.

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