War for the Planet of the Apes

There’s a lot to learn from this year’s War for the Planet of the Apes.

This year’s War for the Planet of the Apes brought closure to the modernised saga of the Planet of the Apes tale which began back in 2011. My dad, brother, and I just went to see it. Like too many of the movies being pumped out into the theatres these days, this one left me not knowing what to think about it and the saga as a whole. It leaves me feeling empty and wanting something I know I’m not going to get.

The Andy Serkis trilogy is primarily the epic, dangerous, and sad adventures of an ape, the one they call Caesar. He’s not a pet, and he is by no means an ordinary ape. The majority of the story, spanning over 20 years, takes place during what some humans dubbed the “Ape-pocalypse” and the disaster’s aftermath. The struggle for survival continues.

I have to say I like this finale over the second installment, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014), but not nearly as much as the first film in which Caesar grows up. To begin, I will start with the positive things this movie had going for it.

Firstly, as my peer Ethan Do has stated, the computer graphics for all the apes were truly spectacular. This is always a plus, and the realistic appearance makes the audience more willing to take the story seriously. The tears running down Caesar’s wrinkled face were amazing!

Of Caesar and Horses

Planet of the Apes Bad Ape
“Bad Ape”. Source: 20th Century Fox.

What really lit up the whole film was the new character “Bad Ape”, who supplied us with some much needed comic relief. Bad Ape and the apes’ poop throwing sequence brought the best elements of comedy.

As in the past film, the apes’ leader Caesar is at conflict within himself as to what his attitude should be towards humans, especially hostile humans. He finally snaps when his wife and eldest son are gunned down in their own home camp in the dead of night.

It seems that the ALZ-112 drug which runs in Caesar’s veins does not only give him extraordinary mental powers and comprehension but that it has given him the capability to have human emotions too. Caesar experiences the urge of vengeance. In the last two films, it has felt like the humans are acting more like animals and the apes more like human beings.

I have one question for the script writers. I’ve been dying to know since the second movie. It’s a pretty insignificant inquiry: Where did all the horses that the apes ride on come from? They have enough to start a small cavalry.

I know Caesar’s party took a few horses from the police force in the first film, but most horses employed by police units are geldings, male horses which have been castrated. Thus my question remains: If the few horses acquired by the apes were unable to multiply, how did the apes get such a vast variety of equines?

The Tone and Other Disappointments

Planet of the Apes. That’s a big monkey.
That’s a big monkey. Source: 20th Century Fox.

For me, the movie did not have as dark an overtone as Dawn of the Planet of the Apes did, yet it was very dark nonetheless. The plot rolls out in a post-apocalyptical world; that sets the dark tone right off the bat.

The plot felt lacking as I said earlier. As with many modern movies, the filmmakers spent most of their time on visual aesthetics and action sequences. As it wore on, War for the Planet of the Apes was showing similarities to older cinema classics like The Great Escape (the tunnel digging for escape) and Dinosaur (traveling to a new, fertile home).

Planet of the Apes - Sad Caesar
Sad Caesar. Source: 20th Century Fox.

In the end, the moribund saga closes with the majority of the human race obliterated and the main character Caesar dying of a fatal wound. Earth has truly become the Planet of the Apes. I was not overly impressed with the film. I think I’ll stick with the 2011 Rise of the Planet of the Apes.