War for the Planet of the Apes combines self-conflict, a compelling narrative and stunning effects to create a strong conclusion to a powerful and successful trilogy.
It is rare to create a good trilogy; many have often failed at the final hurdle but the Planet of the Apes reboot series has succeeded. Moreover, the final film stands above the previous two. Dealing with the philosophical themes of conflict and revenge we are taken on the last part of Caesar journey.
The film opens 15 years after the events of the first film, humans walk around quietly hunting for apes with ‘Monkey Killer’ written on their helmets suggesting that peace between the two have all but fallen. This time though the humans have apes on their side, with ‘Donkey’ written on their backs they are deemed lower than they are. The Alpha-Omega faction is lead by the psychopathic Colonel played by Woody Harrelson, who at any cost, will get rid of all apes. Caesar played by Andy Serkis is still the same, having gone through vigorous pain inflicted by the humans he is still forgiving, wanting and offering peace.
This film is a slow burner; if you are expecting action scenes after action scene this is not it. The film focuses more on the conflict inside of Caesar; from the previous films we built an understanding of who Caesar is but after a horrific incident Caesar begins to question himself. He needs to be leader that the apes require however his hatred takes over, diverting him down a different path. We are reminded of Koba who is a counterpart to Caesar in the earlier films, Caesar doesn’t want to become Koba and he simply does not want to let hatred control him.
Woody Harrelson plays The Colonel, a ruthless leader who is fixated with wiping out the apes, he strongly believes that Humans are the dominant race and that is how it should always be. We can see the similarities with Colonel Walter E. Kurtz from Apocalypse Now, the way The Colonel is lit, his beliefs as well as his looks. We understand his reasoning behind his actions, although sad it is The Colonel that epitomises hatred, we see that he will never change. This is what Caesar has to fight against physically as well as mentally in himself.
War for the Planet of the Apes offers a spectacle of storytelling and character struggle, the visual effects and cinematography are stunning and the performances are gripping. The battles are within the characters nevertheless the film still has edge of your seat action and when it happens it is spectacular.
Overall, War for the Planet of the Apes is one of the strongest films of the year; Matt Reeves has done exceptionally well in his direction of creating a visually stunning epic and it is refreshing to see a great conclusion to a trilogy.