'While watching this 3rd installment from the "Plant of the Apes" franchise, I couldn’t help but think of the lyrics of Marvin Gaye’s anti-war, song “What’s Going On?” Gaye’s message that war is not the answer is highly poignant in “War For The Planet Of The Apes.”
At the core of this film is a decisive battle between rapidly rising apes and desperately declining humans with each fighting for the survival of their species and it takes place two years after the last offering “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.”
Caesar (Andy Serkis), the super-intelligent alpha-ape who was introduced to audiences in the first film “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” only wants to live peacefully apart from humans especially after the power struggles seen in “Dawn." But peace between the species has collapsed and when a renegade band of human soldiers led by an imperious Colonel McCullough (Woody Harrelson), attacks the colony -- Caesar is hit with an unimaginable personal loss. Despite criticizing his late former antagonist Koba for his inability to forgive humans, he finds he can’t forgive Colonel McCullough. Despondent and devastated, he comes to the grim conclusion that human and apes will never be able to live together and it becomes a world filled with hate and rage as the apes and human battle for world domination.
A sweeping, action-packed spectacle peppered with political and social ideologies, it’s directed by Matt Reeves (“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”), and is a heartfelt drama with cinematic references to war films “Platoon” and Francis Ford Coppola anti-war epic film “Apocalypse Now” (there's a scene showing the sign Ape-ocalypse Now scrawled in a cave).
Audiences will witness a winner-take-all high-tech CGI battle, mass explosions, spears, bullets and apes on horseback and swinging from trees and the pivotal war that determines the fate of human civilization. Accompanied by Michael Giacchino’s brilliant score, which really propels the action and emotion, they will be immersed in Caesar’s emotional quest to lead his young society to a new home. Driven by his personal vendetta against the Colonel, they will empathize with his rage to use any means necessary to vanquish the humans.
Returning cast members include Maurice (Karin Konoval), Rocket (Terry Notary) and new additions include a young human girl (Amiah Miller) who plays an unexpected role in the apes’ survival and an elderly intelligent chimp and zoo escapee called Bad Ape. Portrayed with comic poignancy by Steve Zahn, he adds the smidge of comic relief to this delightfully dark drama.
“This is a holy war,” Colonel McCullough tells Caesar in one terrifying scene. “All of human history has led to this moment.”
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