Are apes really better than people? Ever since the groundbreaking science-fiction novel was written by French author Pierre Boulle, we have questioned whether evolution will come to bite back at our dysfunctional political structure. Apes have yet to outsmart us idiotic humans, but now the last addition to the widely-praised reboot makes our future clearer.
War for the Planet of the Apes first gives us a recap of the last two films, explaining the RISE and the DAWN that led us to the WAR between apes and humans. Like most summer movies, CGI composes basically every single frame here. Although comparatively speaking, each ape design is distinctly detailed to move in the proper ape mannerism. From a distance, the apes look more like they belong in the PS4; up close, the light hits their skin perfectly: you could almost reach out to wipe the orangutan’s tears.
Many cast members here have returned from Dawn of the Planet of the Apes; while computers cloak their entire figure, the power in their eyes remain untouched to communicate true sincere pain. They speak either one word at a time or using American Sign Language, greeting one another with pressed foreheads rather than a familiar hug. The little actions they make will make you wonder how you could understand so much about another species apart from your own.
The rebellious species’ familiar leader, Caesar, continues being the most powerful asset of the franchise thanks to the stern performance by Andy Serkis. Now, Caesar can speak in mostly complete sentences, further motivating his fear for his own followers. However, his motivation to fight as revenge for the death of his family comes off rather weak; we’ve seen the scenario countless times before to much greater effect. Aside from Caesar, plenty of other complex characters hold the story up on its two-pawed feet, even if some key roles feel more underused than the smaller roles.
One of the smaller characters who gets a little more screen-time than he deserves is one of the few speaking apes, “Bad Ape,” terrifically played by Steve Zahn as he moves us one minute and cracks us up the next; the tension he adds grounds us into reality. Yet he also leans too much upon comic relief and too little upon being an actual character in a war movie. Think K-2SO in Rogue One, except a bit more useful.
As a war movie, director Matt Reeves (Cloverfield, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) compromises the real brutality of a holocaust concentration camp for a suitable PG-13 rating. The true horrific moments come out from the details: several ape traitors join the humans as they rally up the other apes into cages to starve, the words “Ape-pocalypse Now” deface the underground chambers, an X-shaped torture device reminiscing crucifixion taunts the apes daily—it all lands on Caesar as he takes a whipping by his own kind just because he stood up for the apes’ rights.
Unfortunately, no perfection exists in this interpretation of a potential future, as it is ruled under a stereotypically evil ruler who likes to monologue about his past. It also makes no sense why the end of mankind would only affect the US. Considering these ape species originated from Africa and Southeast Asia, adding those governments into the scheme would have added some realism to a potential WWIII.
But one new character does bring out the deepest hope for humanity despite our inability to communicate. We get to meet Nova as a child, unable to speak, and brought alongside Caesar’s colleagues. Her introduction alone mesmerizes you: After breaking into a human’s home, one of these apes, the orangutan, notices Nova asleep in her bed. He returns her doll to her, slowly, keeping a curious gaze upon her gentle nature. Their silent eye-to-eye exchange brings the needed tension breaker during the endless line of heat. Her spectacular moments do not stop there, as she sees beauty in the harsh tribulation blind to her new ape friends. She looks past the snow to glance at the beauty of pink blossoms in the tree above. More characters like her need to be made for the screen, as someone so young of so few words can teach us grown men more than we realize about reconsidering our actions.
So in conclusion, War for the Planet of the Apes gives the Planet of the Apes franchise what it needed all along. It unrighteously continues to be detrimental to the humanity we can produce, yet still gives a satisfactory exploration of the value in communication much like what Arrival masterfully explored. Even if we already know how this movie will end, the impact of what so far is the best movie of the summer stands clear. You will be shocked from how much in common you share with these nonhumans fighting against ourselves, just further proof why apes are the most beautiful creatures in the animal kingdom.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!
War for the Planet of the Apes. 20th Century Fox. Web. <http://www.foxmovies.com/movies/war-for-the-planet-of-the-apes>.
“War For The Planet Of The Apes 5k Movie.” Digital image. HDq Walls. Web. <http://hdqwalls.com/war-for-the-planet-of-the-apes-5k-movie-wallpaper>.