Should you watch this if it’s free? Okay.
Should you watch this at weekday movie ticket prices? If you’re a “Planet of the Apes” fan
Secret ending? No.
Running time: 140 minutes (~2.25 hours)
The film takes place two years after “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes“, and sees ape leader Caesar at war with the humans of the planet, even whilst he deals with his own internal struggles.
“War for the Planet of the Apes” is directed and written by Matt Reeves, with additional writing credits for Mark Bomback. It stars Andy Serkis (Caesar), Steven Zahn (Bad Ape), Karin Konoval (Maurice), Terry Notary (Rocket), Ty Ollson (Red), and Woody Harrelson (The Colonel). It is rated PG.
“War for the Planet of the Apes” is the third film that hopefully concludes the “Planet of the Apes” film franchise. There’s no doubting the production quality and standard of the performances in the film. It’s the abysmally pretentious approach, the sickeningly blatant attempts to be impactful, and the way it takes itself so seriously that makes this so difficult to enjoy. You should catch it for the sake of the brand name, but don’t expect it to be a sincere story.
Strong themes about humanity and the lack of it thereof
Caesar’s humanity is perhaps the strongest aspect of the film, with the CGI imparting emotions so authentic that we can’t help but empathise with his situation. This is contrasted with the Colonel’s ironic but on the nose pragmatism when it comes to his race. Similarly, the apes display more feeing than the humans, and even the unnamed apes are given equally detailed reactions when it comes to being roused by Caesar, whilst the humans are of course, icons of barbarism.
Overdramatic operatic score
It’s perfectly understandable to want to augment the impact of certain scenes. However, just adding drums and slow, loud music does not automatically turn a normal scene into an epic one. The film falls to the music as a crutch far too often, in a failed attempt to elevate mediocre scenes, such as pairing it with a poop joke to create an emotionally confusing scene. The quality of the score is excellent, but whether it is appropriately used is highly questionable.
Bad Ape stops being funny very quickly
Bad Ape feels like a breath of fresh air when he first appears, being another ape who can communicate in spoken English with Caesar. It’s obvious he’s the comic relief, and brings some light-heartedness to what is otherwise an incredibly intense film. His supposedly hilarious antics soon turn into repetitive attempts to add life to the scenes, and you can’t help but wonder at his competency. His inclusion sounds like a good idea on paper, but ends up being one of the most grating elements in the film.
The Colonel is an absolute disappointment
The villain of the film is, of course, the most inhuman of the humans. The enmity between him and Caesar is developed through incredibly personal stakes, and it’s clear that the inevitable clash between the two will be an epic one. He’s built up as the unconquerable foe that the protagonist must overcome in other to triumph, and the perfect example of a human without humanity.
The film completely drops the ball on him. He’s an utter waste of a character.
Pointless internal conflict for Caesar
Caesar’s characterisation is clear from the get go, since he’s representative of what it means to be human. Then a sudden, random complication appears and inner conflict is foisted on him in the most heavy-handed way possible. This is not even a consistent plot beat. It’s just a token attempt to create tension in a film that already, organically, has it. It’s not a serious concern since Caesar clearly has other, bigger issues to worry about. What we have, then, is a pointless sidetrack from the story that adds nothing but running time to a film that could do without it.
Manipulatively emotional scenes
The film also abuses backstory in an attempt to generate emotional resonance. It’s a starling coincidence that so many characters share the exact same story of loss that’s revealed in the exact same fashion, to the point where it becomes blatantly obvious that the film is trying to milk as much sympathy as it can from its audience. Throw in some exaggerated music, slow cuts and it becomes an eye-rolling, overt jerking of the heart strings. The problem is that this is emotion that’s not rightfully earned from the plot, it’s manufactured through cheap tricks.
“War for the Planet of the Apes” mercifully brings this trilogy to a close by wrapping up long running plot lines and giving closure to the characters. However, it’s just a rehash of the same themes and the same characterisation, and brings nothing new to the franchise.
“War for the Planet of the Apes” opens in cinemas:
– 13 July, 2017 (Singapore)
– 12 July, 2017 (Malaysia)
– 12 July, 2017 (Philippines)
I’m a a Singapore television scriptwriter who’s written for Crimewatch, Police & Thief, Incredible Tales, and Point of Entry. I’m also a Transformers enthusiast and avid pop culture scholar. You can find me on social media as Optimarcus and on my site.
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