Friday, 14 July 2017

Movie Review: War for the Planet of the Apes

In an unexpected fashion, the reinvention of the classic Planet of the Apes franchise has shown that Hollywood can make better remakes and sequels. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes had raised the stakes in terms of quality even better than its original source materials. I personally love Rise (the first film) and I adore Dawn (the second film) very much. So expectations are quite high for this final sequel of Caesar's story.
War for the Planet of the Apes picks up 2 years after the events of Dawn (the second film), where Caesar and his fellow apes desperately tries to find a new place and escape an impending doom of a war that claimed many lives of apes. Consumed by anger and grief for his loss, the once noble and empathetic Caesar decides to leave his fellow apes and his role as a leader in search for revenge. Over the course of the film, Caesar needs to face his own demons with flashes of Koba haunts his very soul. The movie is about mercy and forgiveness, let go of hatred, showing us that ultimately it’s our choices that define who we are.
The CGI rendered and performance-captured apes are superb and top-notch like its predecessors. The various expressions of the apes are beautifully captured and shown on screen. The inclusion of a new ape character, Bad Ape serves as comic relief, by providing a few laughable moments here and there. The new human character, a mute orphan girl, Nova (despite origins unknown and no further character developments provided, based on the character of the same name in the source material) provides some emotional scenes for this sombre, tense and heavy film.
However, hard pressed to say, the final sequel proved to be rather disappointing. Although the same director (Matt Reeves) is at helm for this final sequel and he’s the co-writer with one of the screenwriters for the two previous films (Mark Bomback), it seems that the current script lacks the compelling emotional elements that made its predecessors great, which might be contributed by Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver (co-producers, but not co-writers for this final sequel this time). The second act, which is the constant chasing, imprisonment and subsequent prison break is rather slow and draggy, which might bore some audiences.
The trailers, posters and movie title is rather misleading…We don’t get to see a full blown-out epic, climactic ‘war’ battle between the apes and humans. It’s not really considered as a war if one side doesn’t stand a chance to fight against the other. The off-screen death of two characters that is very important to our main hero, Caesar, which triggers the path of revenge for him, is rather abrupt and sudden.
The new villain, Colonel is not as compelling or impactful as Koba, Caesar’s mutinous second in command. The film tries to portray him as the evil big boss, but the story doesn’t show like so. The colonel does explain how he becomes who he is now, but the film supposed to show us the horror, not telling us.
All in all, despite its numerous shortcomings, the trilogy successfully develops Caesar as one of the most compelling, fascinating heroes of recent cinema history. His moral leadership, honorable values and wisdom represents the best of humanity. The kindness that the orangutan, Maurice and the other apes show Nova stands in stark contrast to the Colonel's behavior. Not the best film in the series but it’s enough to warrant a screening for those who wanted a conclusion of Caesar’s story.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
War for the Planet of the Apes

Question for the movie
***Spoiler Alert***

 Who is Nova?
 Nova (played by Amiah Miller), shares her name with Linda Harrison’s character from the 1968 original. Nova, like Harrison’s character and the other humans in the original 1968 movie, can’t speak, which is why Astronaut George Taylor (Charlton Heston), who can talk, is so remarkable to the ruling apes. While the original Planet of the Apes never explains why humans lost the ability to speak, War for the Planet of the Apes shows that it’s a further mutation of the original virus, the Simian Flu, which killed off a large portion of humanity following the events of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, now becoming a virus that strips off humanity's ability to speak and intelligence, becoming a primitive mind state. Take note that the original movie is a separate film, not to be mixed with this new trilogy.