Film Review: WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES (USA 2017)

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WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APESAfter the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mythic quest to avenge his kind.

Director: Matt Reeves
Writers: Mark Bomback, Matt Reeves
Stars: Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn

Review by Gilbert Seah
 
The original PLANET OF THE APES films were camp and occasionally goofy. They were never taken that seriously. The first featured Charlton Heston stripped naked so that the audience could see his bare buttocks and ended with him cursing God after discovering the Stature of Liberty half buried in the sand.

This followed with BENEATH THE PLANT OF THE APES where subterranean creatures were battling the apes that ending with Earth blowing up. What next? ESCAPE FROM, CONQUEST and the most ridiculous BATTLE FOR which ended the series.

The series reboot began similarly with PLANET OF THE APES flowed by RISE and DAWN OF and now WAR FOR. The primary difference is that the reboot series is serious fodder. The camp and fun is gone. What is left is a serious man vs. ape and the fight for what is right, things that also can get quite ridiculous. When things get ridiculous, the series will end.

The plot takes place two years after the events of DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his apes have been embroiled in a war against humans. As the ape population decreases, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts (isn’t the film serious enough?) in order to avenge his fallen companions. The encounter with the apes and humans puts them into the ultimate confrontation, to determine the fate of the Earth. But the plot is not as simple as it sounds. It also involves a mad colonel (Woody Harrelson) a kind of Marlon Brando character from APOCALYPSE NOW. (There is a poster with the words APEPOCALYPSE NOW, as if the similarity is not already evident.)

The actual war involves two factions of human beings – one led by the colonel who believes that sick human begin should be totally destroyed and the other the rest of the world who believe that the sick can be cured. The apes are caught in between. The problem with all this is the oversimplified plot. What about the other nations of the world like he Chinese, Indians etc. Also, the number of apes can never outnumber the number of humans, though the excuse given is the virus that eliminated most of the human population.

Caesar leads the apes out of the jungle to the new land like Moses in the Bible’s old Testament. The analogy is so obvious and makes the film even more serious for the fact. To the filmmakers’ credit, the film has excellent production values and looks absolutely stunning on film.

So what is the attraction of the PLANET OF THE APES films? Someone once told me he wanted to go see it because he was so obsessed with seeing apes riding horses with rifles slung round their backs. The question is whether the fascination will hold after 4 or 5 similar films. WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES is the 4th of the reboot series and cost a whopping a amount of money with a running time of 140 minutes. Perhaps enough is enough!

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=UEP1Mk6Un98

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