Whenever a film is wrapping up its trilogy there is always cause for concern. Can they end on a high note? Certain trilogies like the Lord of the Rings trilogy have done this in the past. Other trilogies like The Godfather trilogy could not. The first two installments of this new Planet of the Apes franchise are great, so the big question here is whether this third installment lives up to the quality of the first two.
I did not start this war.
The film follows Caesar as he tries to lead his family of apes to safety from the humans. After the evens of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, a group of military men are gunning for the extinction of Caesar and the apes that follow him. Caesar’s priorities are not to fight the humans, but to protect his apes and discover a new safe haven for them. Throughout the series Caesar has had an interesting relationship with humans. In the first film he saw that humans can be kind through James Franco’s Will and Freida Pinto’s Caroline. However, he also saw humanity’s malevolent nature through Tom Felton’s Dodge. In the second film, Caesar still sees the good within humanity, but is certainly more wary than before. This time around, Caesar discovers that whatever ‘good’ was left in humanity has died out (mostly). Early on in the film Caesar and his apes spare some of The Colonel’s troops to show the humans how they are not savages. As it turns out, the humans are in fact savages because they attack the apes’ home and The Colonel kills Caesar’s eldest son along with his wife.
Caesar urges his apes to find this safe haven, while Caesar along with several of his trusted allies embark on a quest for revenge. This all happens within the first 20 minutes or so, and what an amazing way to start off the film. Seeing the apes being driven from their home was absolutely devastating. As was Caesar’s realization that, aside for Cornelius, his family was dead. As Caesar, Rocket, Maurice, and Luca travel to find The Colonel, they discover a young girl. If this were Caesar from the first film, or even the second film, he would have wanted to help her. However, after all the devastation that humanity has brought to him, Caesar does not want to help her. Instead, it is Maurice who decides to bring her along. Afterwards, the apes encounter “Bad Ape”, who is able to take them to the humans’ camp. When they arrive at the camp Caesar decides to go in alone and take on The Colonel, but he discovers how the humans have taken all of Caesar’s remaining apes as their prisoners. Caesar himself is taken prisoner as well, and so begins humanity’s further abuse towards Caesar and the ape community he has built. The Colonel proves to be someone completely devoid of humanity, slowly killing Caesar by refusing to give him food or water. It is fascinating that the humans are the ones that lack humanity in this film, that is until the little girl (Named Nova) shows Caesar that there is still some good left in the Human race. She risks her own well-being to give him water, and ensure his survival. During the film’s final moments Caesar chooses not to kill newly-devolved Colonel, forcing him to kill himself. Instead of allowing himself to succumb to the same vengeance that has tempted the human race, as well as Koba, he decides to be better. While The Colonel’s men are gunning down his apes, Caesar attempts to blow them up, but is briefly thwarted by the same solider he spared early in the film. This is a moment that truly stuck with me because it shows just how vile humanity has become. Humans have been blinded by their unwarranted hatred towards the apes, so much so that they have all sacrificed their own humanity in the process. However, as the film concludes and Caesar closes his eyes for one last time, there is some hope left in the human race. Nova is part of a new breed of humans, humans who have a chance to regain the humanity they had once lost. Seeing this new opportunity for the humans, as well as, the survival of his apes in a new safe haven, Caesar is able to die in peace.
APES TOGETHER STRONG!
If you could not tell, I quite enjoyed this film. I do not know if it is my favorite in the series, but it gives you a lot to think about. What I love most about this film is how it feeds off of the previous two. Everything that has happened in those films matters, and it affects not only the plot of this film, but the characters in this film as well. Andy Serkis gives yet another tremendous performance as Caesar, but really every single person who does the performance capture for any of the apes deserves accolades. I was truly impressed. I do want to give a special shoutout to Steven Zahn, who plays Bad Ape.
This character offers the film’s only laughs, but he also offers some of the most heartbreaking moments. Bad Ape has a devastating backstory, and it is clear that he seeks to be part of a group. When Caesar’s ape community accepts him as one of them, you cannot help but feel overjoyed for the poor ape. From start to finish this film is filled with great moments fueled by great characters. This truly feels like the film that the first two installments have been building towards, and it does not disappoint. The special effects are also better than they have ever been. The film primarily focuses on the apes, unlike the previous two films. Granted, the second film had more of a focus on the apes than the humans, but it was split 60/40. This time around the apes are present for virtually every scene in the film. The soundtrack is also quite great. Michael Giacchino did the soundtrack for this film, along with the second film, and it truly elevates all the emotions you will experience in this film. This may be a great film, but it is by no means perfect. The pacing is a bit off. There are a few sections in the second act that drag on quite a bit, particularly when Caesar and his apes are held as prisoners. Also, while I like the ending quite a bit, I would have liked to know more about what happened to the remaining soldiers. Did any of them survive the avalanche? I know the focus of these films is on the apes, but the humans are an integral part to the story, so I would have liked to know a bit more about what happened to them.
I hope this film keeps doing well in the upcoming weeks, because it deserves all the praise it has been getting. While it has some issues, this is a satisfying conclusion to one of the best trilogies of all time. We are about halfway through 2017 and the film with the most humanity is about talking apes.