‘War For the Planet of the Apes’ is a solid entry in a strong franchise

Dark and enthralling

Andy Serkis as “Caesar” in ‘War For the Planet of the Apea’
Our Score:

“It is hard for the ape to believe he descended from man” – H. L. Mencken

“The Chinese have a saying; “Before setting off on revenge, you first dig *two* graves”” – Roger Moore as “James Bond” in For Your Eyes Only

A decade or so after the events of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes “Caesar” (Andy Serkis – Star Wars VII – The Force Awakens) has lead the apes away from areas populated by the surviving humans.  They have established a temporary home in the hills of California, as part of an ultimate plan to make a home far enough away from those humans to avoid any future confrontations.

A force of human soldiers led by “The Colonel” (Woody Harrelson – Seven Psychopaths) have searched out the apes and the film begins with a brutal assault on the home of the apes.  Both sides suffer large amounts of casualties but for Caesar, there are some deeply personal losses.  Losses that have him thinking like “Koba” did in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

As a result, while almost all of the surviving apes head for another “safe” location, Caesar, accompanied by “Maurice” (Karin Konoval – In the Land of Women), “Rocket” (Terry Notary – Kong: Skull Island) and “Luca” (Michael Adamthwaite – Life On the Line).  Maurice is Caesar’s closest advisor and protector while Rocket is like a brother to him.

As they search for the Colonel’s compound, they come across a soldier living in what appears to be an abandoned home.  Caesar shoots the man who said nothing when the apes tried to communicate with him.  They find a very young girl (Amiah Miller – Lights Out) who also doesn’t speak.

Maurice refuses to leave the girl behind, as she would certainly die in short order on her own; so the apes have a new companion.  When they run into another ape who refers to himself as “Bad Ape” (Steve Zahn – Dallas Buyers Club).  He is easily the most amusing character in the cast.  They discover that the Colonel and his men have captured most of the apes and are using them as slave labor to build a gigantic wall.  Caesar is captured and the Colonel explains that the Simian flu has mutated and it is now causing surviving humans who contract it to basically devolve, robbing them of language and eventually cognition.  The purpose of the wall is to protect the Alpha Omega forces commanded by the Colonel from an expected attack from other surviving military forces.

Woody Harrelson in ‘War For the Planet of the Apes’

This is not the military epic with battles over and over that the film’s trailers suggested it would be.  It is dark and compelling.  Writing, acting and everything else is above the norm among dystopian films.  Andy Serkis is outstanding as Caesar and the actors bringing the other apes to life onscreen also do a great job.  As for Woody Harrelson, he is like a truly fine wine, only improving as he ages gracefully in a wide variety of roles.  Twice nominated for an Oscar, hopefully he will continue to up his game.

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Brian Milinsky

Brian Milinsky has served in the military, been an FM D.J. and an award-winning radio news reporter/anchor/writer/editor. He is presently a screenwriter and currently lives in Los Angeles.

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