War for the Planet of the Apes movie review: Andy Serkis’ masterclass act allows the franchise to end on a beautiful, poignant note

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forget the franchise, war for the planet of the apes is easily one of the best movies to come out this year.

I am sure there is not going to be any war between apes and humans any time soon, but if it does, we should save our own skin, shouldn’t we? But movies like War for The Planet of the Apes will make you ask yourself – does humanity even needs to be saved? Tough question, though, especially with all the infighting we are involved in these days, and the threat of a nuclear war. War for the Planet of the Apes questions us about whether we are the ones beckoning our own end rather than other, external factors. It is the third movie of the Planet of the Apes prequel trilogy. The master of mo-cap performances, Andy Serkis, returns to bring the ape leader Caesar to life, in a movie directed by Matt Reeves. The first two movies have been commercially successful, as well as have been critically acclaimed. Will this movie end the trilogy on a high or be The Godfather III of the series? Read our review to find out…

What’s it about

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Set two years after the incidents of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his monkey-tribe are in the hiding from the surviving humans deep in the jungle. However, an army outfit led by a crazy leader simply known as The Colonel (Woody Harrelson) finds out about their hideout and in the ensuing attack, Caesar’s wife and elder son are killed. Seething with anger and seeking revenge, Caesar sends the rest of the tribe to a new location that his son had discovered before being killed by the Colonel, while he himself goes on a personal mission to kill the man who destroyed nearly his whole family. He is aided by his dear friend Maurice, right-hand man Rocket and lieutenant Luca. On the way, they are also joined by a mute human child (Amiah Miller), whom Maurice takes under his care and a previous zoo inmate Bad Ape (Steve Zahn). Will Caesar’s revenge mission will make him the next Koba, the ape from the previous who was the reason the war broke out in the first place? Watch the movie to find out…

What’s hot

In a movie that is mostly focused on CGI-enhanced characters, WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES is a very riveting affair filled with some terrific performances and poignant moments. This is easily the best movie in the trilogy, even though it isn’t as action-packed and mainstream as the first movie. War For The Planet… has been beautifully shot, with some amazing frames capturing the tranquillity of snow laden mountains as well as the grimness of a race facing its extinction after having ruled the planet for centuries. It is easily the most wonderfully shot and layered movie of the series, with the VFX being the best I have seen in any film in recent times. The apes are perfectly recreated, and the actors who are behind the suits have done a really good job at that. But of course, we have to talk about Andy Serkis first, and his performance here is his crowning glory of his career. Whatever travesties he goes through the movie, he makes you feel for him despite being a CGI-enhanced character, and that’s the power of his performance. It also helps that he has an engaging arc in the movie – that if it comes to getting your revenge or looking for the survival of your kin, what would you choose? Even the other apes like Maurice, Rocket, Luca and the traitorous Red have their moments. Newcomer Bad Ape is a nice addition to the tribe, with Steve Zahn bringing in the much needed lighter moments to the bleak atmosphere.

Among the human cast, the little girl Amiah Miller is certainly a find. Her eyes speak a lot even though she has no dialogue. Woody Harrelson may be saddled with a nearly underdeveloped role, but he is tremendous in that.

Matt Reeves‘ direction and the story-telling also need to be praised, especially for not choosing a commercial way to end the franchise. This is not a movie filled with explosions and stuff, just because it has War in the title (I would rather have it named The Great Escape with the Apes). It is a movie filled with some very poignant moments, some of then coming from the interactions between the apes among themselves, or with the little girl. I am not spoiling them for you, but I am sure you will certainly sniff a couple of times, if not bawl your heart out, aided by a rousing background score. The climax will leave you teary-eyed for sure.

What’s not

Compared to the other two movies, the human characters are the least fleshed out here, except for the little girl, just so that you end up sympathising with the apes. The soldiers in the movie don’t show the fear of their extinction, and we are not sure if there are other humans left who are not working for the army. So the humans end up being something that is expendable, thus never letting us feel we are getting exterminated for good. The slave camp scenes that eat up most of the second half are something we have seen in a lot of movies, be it Hollywood or Bollywood, except that humans are replaced by apes. There is nothing new about those. At a runtime of nearly 140 minutes, some of these scenes could have been truncated.

Also, those who expect the entire movie to be an elongated war sequence between man and apes, will be surely disappointed. There is a war for sure, but it’s not what you expect and it comes at the very end.

What to do

Forget the franchise, WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES is easily one of the best movies to come out this year. Unlike last week’s Spider-Man: Homecoming, this is not a fun watch that you can enjoy with your friends. This is a deeply moving story, well-directed, and replete with some amazing VFX and performances. Certainly, a befitting, emotional farewell to one of my favourite franchises of this century.

P.S. – Please hand over an Oscar to Andy Serkis already.

Rating:4.0 out of 5

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