Was It Good: War For The Planet Of The Apes (Spoiler Free)
Here we have the final chapter of the current apes reboot, concluding the story of Caesar, and it was pretty good. The movie starts off sometime after the previous film, Dawn. We enter the story with a completely new set of human characters who are as the title suggests, at war with the apes (in a sense.) Intriguingly enough, after the first 15 minutes or so you might notice there is more focus on Caesar and the apes this time around which could have been a hindrance if not for Weta Digital's masterful combination of motion captured human performances with ultra realistic CGI animation. Through this amazing technology we get to see the full range of expression in each of the actors faces as with the previous films. There has definitely been a noticeable progression in the advancement of technology throughout each installment and this one definitely takes the cake. Andy Serkis' performance as Caesar is excellent as usual, and one would expect no less from him. He has proven himself in this format through many roles; from his portrayal of Gollum (numerous times in the LOTR series,) to Supreme Leader Snoke in The Force Awakens and his award winning performance as Kong in 2005. It's great to see him in normal acting roles and I can't wait to see how he further establishes his version of Klaw in the upcoming Black Panther film. What's amazing about Serkis' motion capture performances is you wouldn't even know it's his voice with how well he's able to alter it for each role.
As for the rest of the acting, Woody Harrelson as the Colonel does a fine job and has been on quite a hot streak in his career as of late. He can be downright ruthless at times here, yet the script helps bring out his characters sense of humanity. We understand that he's trying to keep the human race alive at any cost which most people would probably do in his position. If you've seen any of the trailers you might have also noticed a new ape character who goes by Bad Ape. Once I found out he was played by Steve Zahn I couldn't help but think of his role in 2001's Saving Silverman but I'm here to tell you not to worry. His comic relief in this film is thankfully not quite as ludicrous and it made me want to see some more recent films of his. The rest of the apes mostly use sign language to communicate and there isn't much dialogue from them. Same goes for a young girl who ends up on the journey with them, but the emotive performances work great here in contrast with the few speaking leads.
Don't expect a full on war film as the title might suggest. We get some war like action in the beginning and towards the end but what this film is ultimately about is bringing finality to Caesars journey. I would say for the first half of the movie I was pretty immersed in the story but then in the second half a few things took me out of it just a bit. I won't get into spoilers here and it might not even bother you but there were some sequences I had a hard time suspending disbelief for, and I'm sure I won't be the only one to poke those holes in the plot. Plot holes aside, the movie does a fine job at engaging the audience most of the time through the physical and emotional struggles portrayed. However, as satisfying as this conclusion was I for some reason didn't feel quite as invested emotionally as I did with the previous installment. I think this may have been because as harrowing a tale this can be at times, things tend to get a bit too convenient for the characters where as in Dawn we had the menacing Koba. He really brought weight to every predicament he created for Caesar and was truly a force to be reckoned with.
If you want to know how the trilogy ends I recommend checking this one out in theaters, just don't go in expecting a full on war film. This entry might even benefit more from those who have recently re-watched the previous two installments. Also for fans of the original 1968 Planet of the Apes, there are a few subtle nods you might catch here and may even have you speculating the possibility that the two versions could be connected in some way. For me it was a solid 8/10. Have you had a chance to see it? Let us know which Apes movie is your fave!