WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES review by Ronnie Malik – Woody Harrelson declares war

WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES review by Ronnie Malik – Woody Harrelson declares war

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Rating: B+

War For the Planet of the Apes is the final chapter in a trilogy that began in 2011. Filled with amazing visuals and incredible CGI, this is the third installment in the popular series of films based on “La Planète des Singes”, a science fiction novel written by French author Pierre Boulle. Due to an experiment, apes now rival man in intelligence and the conflict between the two species will lead to war that will determine who will inherit the earth. This action packed adventure delves into its main character’s battle with his inner demons as he overcomes his desire for revenge.

After his clan is brutally attacked by human invaders, Caesar (Andy Serkis), the leader of the apes, takes his followers to a safe haven to escape the brutality of mankind. The safety and security of the primate’s new home is short lived. Their hideaway is discovered by an army of men lead by a ruthless Colonel (played by Woody Harrelson). When Caesar discovers that his camp is about to be invaded, he charges his son Blue Eyes (Max Lloyd-Jones) with the responsibility of protecting his wife Cornelia (Judy Greer) and younger son Cornelius (Devyn Dalton). Caesar chases and manages to kill several of the invaders, but when he returns to his family he is horrified to discover Blue Eyes and Cornelia dead, baby Cornelius missing, and their killer, the Colonel, attempting an escape. Filled with rage, Caesar is now determined to avenge his family.

With their village destroyed, the apes are now refugees searching for a new home. But their fearless leader will not go with them on their journey. Caesar is determined to find the basecamp of the man responsible for murdering his family. Accompanied by some of his loyal followers, Caesar abandons his tribe and is on a mission to execute the colonel. On Caesar’s journey across snow filled lands, he stumbles upon an abandoned little girl, soldiers mysteriously shot and left for dead, a tiny little ape hiding in the woods that will become his aid, and the dreadful discovery that his fellow apes are captured and placed in concentration camps by those they were trying to escape. Driven by his hatred for the Colonel and mankind, Caesar will fight to the death to save his species and seek vengeance for his family.

War For the Planet of the Apes is actually a very emotional and compelling sci-fi drama. The film deals with difficult choices leaders on opposing sides of a war often have to make and takes a look at how differences between races are often misunderstood. The parallels with this movie and real life are uncanny. In this last chapter of the trilogy, Caesar’s inner rage is released as his quest for revenge takes over his voice of reason. This tale shows an impassioned noble leader struggling with his anger, grief, and loss making this showcase the most powerful of the three films.

Andy Serkis brings to life facial expressions mixed with amazing CGI effects that create a very believable character. As a matter of fact, all the apes are bursting with life making each more lifelike than they were in the previous films. The most amazing effect has to be in the eyes that reveal what each ape must be feeling. Serkis is compelling as he conveys distrust, anger, hopelessness, and sadness… and all just through his face. Almost no words are needed to figure out what is going through mind of the ape king. Woody Harrelson’s performance is another standout aspect of the production. Harrelson plays a military leader that uses his own fear of a species he does not understand as a justification to throw his humanity out the window, delivering some speeches that will almost you have you believing that murder and mayhem is often a means to an end when it comes to survival. When the tables turn on the Colonel, Harrelson will evoke empathy for his character who succumbs to his own logic about survival of the fittest.

This last (?) production in the trilogy is set against a beautiful winter backdrop and allows for some breathtaking scenes. The musical score coupled with all the action sequences also add to overall dark gritty feel of the movie. There are plenty of explosions and gunfights to keep action seekers fully engaged.

War For the Planet of the Apes brings the story of man versus ape full circle and neatly ties up any loose ends from its predecessors, making any weakness in the previous movies forgivable. The science fiction saga does run a bit long and has a few melodramatic moments. But, with everything this drama has to offer, few will notice the small flaws. There is no monkeying around in what is bound to be a big summer blockbuster for fans of this ape vs man thriller.

WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES opens July 14, 2017

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