Martens' Movie Reviews

Movie Reviews from an avid movie-goer

War for the Planet of the Apes Review

This is my 30th movie review since I started this site 26 days ago. I just wanted to thank the people who’ve read my reviews. I greatly appreciate it. I write these reviews to share my thoughts on movies, and to try and have a conversation about these movies. It doesn’t matter if I have 1 or 100 people reading my reviews. The fact that they are being read at all, is the best feeling in the world for someone like me, who just wants to add what little I’m able to the conversation. So once again, thank you all! – Alex

Released: July 14, 2017
Running Time: 2 hours 20 minutes

War For The Planet Of The Apes was directed by Matt Reeves, who returns to the franchise after the fantastic success of Dawn. This movie was written by two new writers to the franchise Matt Reeves and Mark Bomback, in which they managed to do a marvellous job in expanding the world, and taking the existing characters and meshing them with the new ones.

The movie features returning cast members Andy Serkis as Caesar, Karin Konoval as Maurice, Terry Notary as Rocket, Toby Kebbell as Koba, and Judy Greer as Cornelia. War also introduces new actors to the series in Woody Harrelson as The Colonel, Steve Zahn as Bad Ape, Amiah Miller as Nova, Ty Olsson Red Donkey, Michael Adamthwaite as Luca, Gabriel Chavarria as Preacher, Sara Canning as Lake, Devyn Dalton back after not being in Dawn, this time as Cornelius, Aleks Paunovic as Winter, Alessandro Juliani as Spear, Max Lloyd-Jones as Blue Eyes, Timothy Webber as Ape Elder, Roger Cross as Captain, Mercedes de la Zerda as Lang, and Chad Rook as Boyle.

The story was beautifully put together, and made narrative sense in the context of the previous movies. This movie takes place roughly 2 years after Caesar defeated Koba, and the war between the Humans and the Apes started. The Humans are led by The Colonel who is trying to find and kill Caesar, because he believes that if he cuts off the head of the snake, the rest will die out quickly. Caesar has been in hiding, gathering his Apes trying to find a place where they can distance themselves from the Humans. Blue Eyes returns from a scouting trip, and claims that there’s a place in the east, where there’s a desert full of sand, with no Humans. Caesar still doesn’t want to be involved in the war, but will do what he must to protect his ‘people’.

After the events near the beginning of the movie, Caesar and a small group of Apes go out in search of the Colonel to kill him, and maybe end this war before they all die. It’s a huge change to the character of Caesar who has been against killing either fellow Apes, or Humans in the past, having more of a peaceful ideology than others.

The acting in this movie was superb, with the Humans all being portrayed brilliantly in their quest of survival. The Apes were all wonderfully played and created by Weta, who have surpassed themselves once again with their Motion Capture technology. Andy Serkis is Caesar as much as he was Gollum, he has shined in this series, and is at his best in this movie. I thoroughly believe that Serkis should be nominated for his performance at the Oscars or the Globes, but sadly, I don’t believe that he will be so lucky.

The villain,which was played wonderfully by Harrelson, was believable in his demeanor, with a motivation that is completely understandable (once it’s revealed), however due to his haunting past (which is explained in the movie, but not shown) has now thrown his judgment out the window, and cannot be reasoned with.

The movie was extremely suspenseful throughout, as well as exciting, terrifying, and was somehow both the darkest and the funniest movie of the series. The darkness of the movie is explored in the overall theme and tone of the film. It’s also the funniest movie of the series due to the character Bad Ape, who provides a much needed comic relief. I feel without Bad Ape, and the comedic timing of the character, the movie would have felt much more depressing, and gloomy. Below is a picture of Bad Ape to give you an idea of the hilarity of the character.

Bad Ape Steve Zahn War for the Planet of the Apes

Source – 20th Century Fox Bad Ape played by Steve Zahn

The psychological effects of war was shown throughout the movie, and it was believable and real, that the characters were experiencing them. You felt emotional over the situation that the Humans and the Apes were in. I will agree with others who are saying that this movie makes you feel emotionally invested in a way that other movies have not done, in quite a while.

The movie was not perfect, as no movie is, where I found that the movie was too long. I feel like the movie should’ve been around 10-20 minutes shorter, and made the story more concise, however, I can understand the reasoning for making the movie long, I think it suffered a bit because of it.

The overall plan which was contrived by the Colonel was a bit ridiculous, which I will explore further in the spoiler section below. The final showdown between Caesar and the Colonel was very anti-climactic, and the final battle felt rushed.

The way this movie ends, feels like it could possibly be seen in three different ways; it’s a prequel to the original movies, they are setting up to do ‘remakes’ of the original movies, or they will end the series where it is.

You can scroll down to where it says “Spoilers Are Done!!” to skip the Spoiler Section, and you can come back and read the Spoiler Section once you have seen the movie.

Spoilers Ahead!!

 

 

 

 

 

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The event that starts the movie’s main plot line is the unfortunate death of Cornelia and Blue Eyes (Caesar’s wife and eldest child). Winter gives up the Apes’ location in order to be spared when the Humans exterminate the Apes, where the Colonel ends up going to Caesar’s ‘room’ and kills them. Cornelius, Caesar’s youngest son managed to survive by escaping, and Caesar sends him off with the rest of the Apes to find their promised land, while he goes on his quest for revenge.

What follows is Caesar’s complete change of personality and snaps. He turns vengeful, and is out for blood. He’s constantly reminded that he becoming more and more like Koba, who couldn’t get rid himself of his hate towards Humans. This part of the movie reminded me of the movie Gladiator in its theme of revenge for the death of his wife and child.

The Humans are more erratic in this movie, as the virus which has already wiped out most of Humanity, has recently started to mutate and causing humans to lose the power of speech and to decay mentally, which the Colonel states is Nature’s way of punishing Humans for screwing around with it.

We meet Nova, the personification of the mutation of the virus, after Caesar kills her guardian (might be her father, never fully explained) who was about to shoot Rocket, Maurice and Luca. Maurice decides to bring her along, with Caesar being against it to begin with. She reminds him of the all the good in Humanity, while being conflicted with the awful experience in which he has just experienced with the death of most of his family.

The character of Bad Ape (portrayed wonderfully by Steve Zahn), used to be in a zoo, and developed the ability of speech and intelligent thought by being around the Humans who were infected by the virus, passing it onto him. Bad Ape stole almost every single scene that he was in, and it’s a difficult thing to do, when you are going up against Caesar, however he does spend a majority of his screen time with Rocket, Maurice and Nova.

There are Apes (like I have mentioned above), that have decided to throw in their luck with the Humans, either because they supported Koba, or they think they will lose the war against the Humans; these Apes are branded and called ‘Donkeys’. They are there to carry the ammo, load the weapons, provide scouting of the Apes’ area, and to torture the other Apes in the camp.

The part of the movie in which the Apes have been captured, and they are being tortured and forced to perform slave labor in concentration camps was difficult to watch. The fact that we are able to empathize with Apes, and feel angry at the Humans is a wonder that is enhanced by the Weta team as well as the motion capture actors portraying the Apes.

You feel as if you are watching Schindler’s List in that part of the movie. The Apes are being starved and forced to work without water, which Caesar manages to negotiate with the Colonel in finally giving them the resources so they do not die due to the heavy workload.

The motivations for the Colonel being the way he is, and forcing the Apes to build a wall, is because he has decided that the Humans who are once again infected due to the mutated virus, must be put down in order to protect what is left of humanity. He had to kill his own son, who became infected, and ordered the men to do the same thing he did, which was to make that sacrifice for the greater good.

The problem with ‘the greater good’ way of thinking, is that most of the Humans that are left do not agree with killing their own anymore, and are vehemently opposed to that idea. They set out to take out the Colonel, as to rid them of his beliefs. Which is the reason as to why the Colonel is obsessed with his wall, and is using Ape slave labour in order to build it faster.

What I found to be strange about the Colonel’s plan, was that he decided to use Apes to build his wall to protect them from the other Human faction that is out to kill him and his men, however, it is still widely believed that the Apes carry the disease that wiped out most of Humanity, and his men are always around them. That was one part that I didn’t quite understand.

The Colonel’s death was perhaps one of the most poetic points in the movie. While I found the climax of the movie to be quite lame compared to the intense build up throughout the movie, I did enjoy that he committed suicide because he had gotten infected with the mutated virus due to handling Nova’s doll. He stayed true to the end, in his belief that to save humanity, and to save what makes them human, he must purge the world of those infected, including both his own son, and himself.

I thought that the battle at the end against the second Human faction was overly hyped up in the movie, as really it just ends quite quickly, after Caesar blows up the Colonel’s base. I did not like that they got rid of the rest of the Humans with an avalanche.

I felt cheated and was slightly upset that they went that route, and somehow the Apes managed to survive by climbing trees, which would have been knocked over by the avalanche of that size.

Caesar ends his legendary journey with the biblical allegory of crossing the desert with his ‘people’ in order to find the promise land. He truly became the legend, and the Apes revered him in the end, which I found was a beautiful and touching end to his story.


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Spoilers Are Done!!

Overall, I feel like this movie was an emotional rollercoaster and in which the ending was very mixed in terms of quality. The special effects, acting, music, cinematography, the first 2 acts, emotion, and tension of the was brilliantly done. The movie was a slightly too long for my liking. I feel like this movie added another level to the series, and managed to surpass the quality of the previous film.

In the end, I will give this movie the highest score of the trilogy, and give it 9/10. If you enjoyed the first two movies, you will enjoy this movie as well.

What did you think of the movie? Movies are very subjective, and some people will disagree with me. I would love to hear those opinion either way.

Do you think they will continue making more Planet of the Apes movies? What are your thoughts on the trilogy as a whole?

What would you have graded it? What was your favourite part of the movie? Let me know in the comments, I would love to hear from you!! What movie should I review next?

Thank you very much for taking the time to read this review, I hope you enjoyed the movie!

Alex

I wrote a review for the Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which is linked here.

I wrote a review for the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, which is linked here.

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