In theaters now from writer/director Matt Reeves and 20th Century Fox is the epic ending to a world ready for “War for the Planet of the Apes.”
Caesar (Andy Serkis) and the ape clan are trying to stay out of site from any humans while looking for some place else to live. Attacked by a military group led by The Colonel (Woody Harrelson), it becomes even more imperative that they find a new home.
Caesar welcomes the return of his older son with news of a place that will suit them all. Winter (Aleks Paunovic) is a gorilla anxious to leave right away but orangutan Maurice (Karin Konoval), Rocket (Terry Notary), and Luca (Michael Adamthwaite) want to make a safe plan.
Later in the night, an attack on the sleeping clan brings such anger in Caesar that he sends everyone on the road to their new home. He doesn’t join them but instead believes the only way they will survive is by taking out the Colonel. Maurice, Rocket and Luca won’t let him go alone as they trail the soldiers.
On the road they discover a young girl, Nova (Amiah Miller) and Maurice takes it upon himself to care for her. They also find Bad Ape (Steve Zahn), another talker who has a story to tell about a human zoo. Caesar realizes that’s where they need to go and when they reach the facility only horror awaits them.
Caesar’s mind is even more made up that the Colonel is a dangerous man but also learns a secret that could end humanity as they know it. Coming from the North are more soldiers that have a war of their own to wage with the Colonel and the apes are in the middle.
Now the apes must come together stronger than ever if they are to survive.
Serkis as Caesar spends a lot of time in this film being righteously angry or with eyes full of tears. Highly emotional (with cause to be) Caesar fights one more battle against a human who has a plan of his own that doesn’t include the survival of the apes. Carrying the vocals of his clan, it is still clear to see why he is still their leader but even a leader has his breaking point. Serkis has taken the character of Caesar from birth to the promise land.
Harrelson as the Colonel is a man on a mission to destroy Caesar and his clan. Even though Caesar continues to offer ways out of war, the Colonel continues his barrage of attacks with his own agenda at hand. Harrelson’s portrayal is of a straight forward soldier who believes in what he is doing and rules with fear. He isn’t hysterical or outrageous which means his insanity looks normal!
Konoval as Maurice believes in Caesar but fears for them all when he seems to be led by anger and revenge. Maurice’s relationship with Nova is absolutely beautiful. Notary as Rocket is a faithful friend and when Caesar is in trouble, puts himself in the line of fire to support their leader. Adamthwaite as Luca is a gorilla that will fight if Caesar wishes it and protects him whether Caesar wants it or not.
Zahn as Bad Ape is the comic relief of the film but in that comedy is an ape that clearly has seen the worst of humanity. Living away from everything and everyone, his fear is valid and the cause of a few loose screws.
Miller as Nova brings an amazing performance without a single sentence being uttered. Her fears are put to rest immediately and the connection with Maurice is what Caesar has always wanted with the humans. Every move she makes is because of a friendship created by a caring species not her own.
Other cast includes: Gabriel Chavarria as Preacher, Judy Greer as Cornelia, Sara Canning as Lake, Devyn Dalton as Cornelius, Alessandro Juliani as Spear, Max Lloyd-Jones as Blue Eyes, Mercedes Zerda as Lang, Chad Rook as Boyle, Ty Olsson as Red Donkey and Toby Kebbell as Koba.
“War for the Planet of the Apes” brings the story full circle. I won’t hesitate to say that I am a huge admirer of the original 1968 “Plane of the Apes.” I believe the five films in the original franchise are absolutely spectacular in the telling, the filmmaking, the effects and make up brought to life by amazing talented actors. Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans and Linda Harrison set up a franchise that to my mind can never be touched.
There is no way to stop Hollywood from “reimagining” films and the 2001 Mark Wahlberg puts a pin in why remakes should never happen. Of course that didn’t stop the re-attempt in 2011 with the release of “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” followed by “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” in 2014. The story twists and turns bringing only glimpses of the 1968 story-glory. The newer versions invite a generation into this ape-human storyline but I’d rather they experience the original. Oh well, you can’t have everything.
“War for the Planet of the Apes” gives fans of this trilogy more special effects, a big battle and a finality that is nothing short of an epic promised-land ending. There are moments here and there where things get a bit too dramatic with waves of orchestra tugs at the human heart strings. There are also nuggets all over the film that will either make you say ‘oh no they didn’t’ or ‘oh isn’t that great’ as nods or homage’s are strewn about.
My purest heart is still with Heston and McDowall whose portrayals will always stop me during channel surfing to experience how it all began.
In the end – for freedom, family and the planet!