For Reel

War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)
August 17, 2017, 3:02 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Matt Reeves
4 Stars
War for the Planet of the Apes.jpgThe first film of the new Planet of the Apes series imagined itself as a prison drama, with Andy Serkis’ Caesar attempting to navigate the cruelties of his fellow inmates and guards while trying to rally the group together for a united cause. This final installment of the trilogy similarly casts the apes back into a prison—this time, more suggestive of a harsh gulag than an animal containment facility. It is a fitting setting to reflect on how far Caesar has grown from his roots, and the filmmakers perceive said growth as being biblical in proportion. Caesar, like many of the great Western heroes, is also terribly flawed, increasingly finding himself driven by his own stubbornness, violence, and personal vendettas. Just as in the great westerns, Caesar finds his equal in Col. McCullough (Woody Harrelson), who has the same capacity for evil in the name of his species’ survival. As the film progresses, it becomes not so much about how Caesar will redeem himself and therefore his people, but about how all apes will unify and overcome—being a leader, afterall, only goes so far if those who are being led do not have the same capacity for heroic deeds. If this trilogy has its problems, it is one of the few modern trilogies one can name that so fixes itself on the development of a key protagonist, who feels the consequences of each previous film and carries the weight of the series’ brutality on his shoulders.