The feels. So the apes have been trying their best to keep to themselves and survive, but humans have continually disrupted any hopes for peace. When an attack gets personal, Caesar (Andy Serkis) decides that it is time for retaliation, even if it is a suicide mission. It has all come to this. All of the careful foundation laying and character development has been building, and we have reached the crescendo. Without any internal debate, this was my most hotly anticipated movie of the summer. It is one of my favorite running franchises out there with a ton of emotions, and I am thrilled to say that they managed to stick the landing like nobody’s business with War for the Planet of the Apes.
The deep cleanse of Tim Burton has now been completed.
We have followed Caesar through a lot; we watched his humble beginnings of self-realization in Rise, we watched him assume leadership in Dawn and now he is leading his apes to war. He is through messing around, and if you look at the progression of emotions through the three movie posters, he does nothing but get angrier and angrier. This really is a War movie, and by that, I mean it is surprisingly similar to a Holocaust movie. The thing that I don’t think I was anticipating was how contained this story is. The other stories do have a spread of locations, and while this does have that to an extent during the setup, the majority of this movie takes place in this one fortress. There are the tropes that go along with it being a War movie, so it gets chilling in parts, and that is where this movie is most effective: when war horrors are happening to these poor apes you’ve grown to care about. As these movies have gone on, the story has become less and less about the humans. For this chapter, the humans are solely here to be the villain, and gone is the day when we used to be sympathetic. In fact, Woody Harrelson is the only noteworthy human character, and I love the fact that this is almost entirely about the apes at this point.
And to his credit, he does exactly what the role calls for: he’s somebody you loathe.
Whenever I watch a movie I’m preparing to review, I take notes during the viewing. It’s just something that I’ve done for years now. I hardly wrote anything while I was watching this, I was just that deeply invested in the story. The stakes feel even higher than they have ever felt before, and you are never at any point certain just how this will play out. During these previous movies, I never realized the connection I was forming with the side apes, like Rocket, Luca and Blue Eyes, so much so that when they are put in peril, I am legitimately worried about them as if they were a part of my own family. This is another incredible installment, and I know the studios are already rumbling about a fourth movie, but if they chose to end things here, I would be satisfied.
War for the Planet of the Apes (2017) *****
– Critic for Hire