War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)
A Character Study of Humanity through an Ape
War for the Planet of the Apes is one of my all-time favorite films. It’s about humanity, war, values, family and wisdom. This film shows the end of Caesar’s long, arduous journey to launch a new ape civilization and proves that in age, a weaker body makes room for a stronger mind.
The war between humans and apes has been long and deadly. Neither side is “winning” and the apes don’t want to go on the offensive. A very, very impressive opening shot shows humans launching an attack on the apes. It’s violent, dramatic and emotional. In the aftermath, Caesar is introduced as a legendary leader, feared by humans, regarded to almost as a myth. He sends his human prisoners home, as a peace offering, calling for a cease fire. This proves to be a mistake. Caesar has more faith in humanity, and more humanity, than the humans in this film.
When the humans attack the ape stronghold, and the human Colonel kills Caesar’s son, the movie goes from war epic, to personal, family revenge tale. Caesar has dedicated his entire life to this ape society, but now this war has hit home. He has to split away from his people as they travel to a new home, in order to enact revenge. A handful of apes join him, showing the intense loyalty and bond that has built over the course of this trilogy. Every story arc in this film connects to the other two films.
When Caesar and his entire people are captured, this film becomes even more personal to him. His battle of wits against the human Colonel is enticing and emotional. The main combat between the two is about their humanity and representation of the natural world. The Colonel is interested in saving his humanity, to be a hero, to be remembered. Caesar wants to save his apes because they are all he has. He has seen the rise of his people. The Colonel believes it is his right to live on past the apes and the end of his life is very ironic in juxtaposition to that.
This is one of my favorite films because it is a character study of Caesar. His battle is emotional and very, for lack of better term, human. We see him as a father, a leader, and a person. The performance from Andy Serkis eloquently portrays the emotion, pain and suffering of Caesar. I fully think he deserved an Oscar Nomination for this role. A character study is successful when a film focuses on the journey of its subject and puts them through the toughest of situations, in order to force them to make true emotional decisions. Caesar deliberates on many decisions, but also has to react immediately. He makes harsh and violent decisions, as well as merciful and wise ones.
Overall, this is, yes one of my all-time favorite films. It caps off an incredible trilogy that gets better and better and better as time goes on. It grows as its lead character does, it dies with him as well. A long book, if you’d like. The cinematography in this film is fantastic. The CGI is exceptional. Would I watch this film again? Yes! A hundred times yes. Should you watch this? Yes! This one even works well alone, but on the back of the two other films, is an absolute masterpiece.