‘War for the Planet of the Apes’ Review: Finale of biblical proportions
Matt Reeves’ War for the Planet of the Apes is a triumphant and fitting conclusion to a trilogy of films that deserves much more fanfare and acclaim than it already has.
The franchise, which started with Rise of the Planet of the Apes back in 2011, saw the landscape of blockbuster cinema in a constant state of flux.
While other franchises latched on to treating the movie-going public like visitors of a theme park who are just in it for the roller coaster-like spectacle and experience, the Planet of the Apes reboot keeps on evolving without necessarily straying from the story of Caesar (Andy Serkis), the ape who evolves from being a laboratory experiment into the leader of intelligent simians who are out to dislodge humans as the dominant species in the world.
Rise suffered from being an origin story, and while competently directed by Rupert Wyatt, its pleasures relied on its ability to mold the beginnings of an apocalypse that will connect to the horrors of Franklin J. Schaffner’s original Planet of the Apes (1968) or Tim Burton’s 2001 remake. Reeves took over for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014), proceeding to craft a tale of Shakespearean consequences out of monkeys eking out an organized society amidst persecution from surviving humans.
War continues Dawn’s tradition of reshaping pop culture to make more overt allegories that reflect very current realities.
Cruelty and faith
Opening with a battle between human soldiers and defending apes deep within the forest, the film immediately slows down, treading forward with a deliberate pace, utilizing familiar tropes of various genres in pursuit of its vivid exploration of both human cruelty and faith.
War stretches Dawn’s metaphors to near biblical proportions.
Caesar, from the rising and benevolent leader ruler of the previous film, is dealt with strife that forces him to expose a humanity that is even more compelling than before. He becomes a Christ-like figure, a symbol of hope for an enslaved people. He is even granted imagery reminiscent of seminal moments from the bible.
He is hung on wooden beams, almost crucified before being quenched of his thirst by a little girl (Amiah Miller) that his people are supposed to hate in a sequence that sparks hope amidst such stark cheerlessness. He is provided moments of doubt, where he questions his own morality after facing dilemmas that compromise his own rules.
Faith is clearly a persistent theme.
As the film paints the burgeoning apes as distressed by humanity’s abuse and oppression and the remaining people of the world as desperately clinging to their diminishing superiority, they rely on solitary figures of differing charismas. While Caesar plays the role of his people’s savior with obvious ease, the surviving humans only have the Colonel (Woody Harrelson), a crazed authoritarian who thrives in discrimination for self-preservation. They hold their positions in their respective groups with doctrines like survivalism and exodus that are all akin to religion.
Portrait of inequity
At this point, War has pushed the franchise as far as it could from Schaffner’s iconic sci-fi film.
The original Planet of the Apes, with its ending – Charlton Heston lamenting the fall of humanity – feels like a cautionary tale, a work that feeds on our collective fear of being inferior as what that film’s hero has suffered through at the hands of civilized primates.
Rise, Dawn, and now, War, with their diligent effort to humanize the animals that have previously been depicted as villains, and create a world of abject division that results in atrocities that may have been inspired by real history, are portraits of the recurring inequity that has besieged society since the beginning. – Rappler.com
Francis Joseph Cruz litigates for a living and writes about cinema for fun. The first Filipino movie he saw in the theaters was Carlo J. Caparas’ 'Tirad Pass.' Since then, he’s been on a mission to find better memories with Philippine cinema.