Witness a planet where apes become more human-like and humans grow wilder…
War for the Planet of the Apes is more than two enemies battling for control or supremacy. It tells the story of a fight for survival. Apes fight for ape. Humans seek to secure their own. Each seek to protect their own kind and way of life. But fear motivates each tribe. The soldiers, led by the Colonel, want to destroy all apes, rather than be wiped out themselves, of course. But they also fight battles on other fronts, including the effects of the Simian flu which has killed many of them and lies dormant in every living survivor.
But back to that main plot in this piece of the Planet of the Apes franchise. A unit of soldiers push through the forest. Names like ‘Monkey Killer’ are chalked into their helmets. The atmosphere is tense – filled with the deathly quiet of a prey stalking its quarry. But these men aren’t searching for food or shelter. Their mission is to find ape master Caesar, kill him, and destroy all of ape kind. Casualties are lost on both sides, and in the aftermath of the skirmish, Caesar sends back the sole human survivors and a servile ‘donkey’ gorilla as a message of peace. Yet soon after, the Colonel infiltrates the hiding ape colony and manages to slaughter Caesar’s wife and child. This sets Caesar off on mission of revenge where he is joined by a detail of companions, including Maurice, a kind-eyed Orangutan, and an unlikely befriending of a lone human girl.
The film tells the story from the point of the view of the apes, who desperately want to escape and find a safe haven for their clan, but they also live in uncertain, desperate times where even ape turns against ape – a lingering hatred of legacy left over from the treacherous work of a previous leader.
War for the Planet of the Apes is an interesting film that encourages reflection on the nature of humans and animals. It does this in a curious way: with the apes becoming stronger as a family, learning the power of speech and growing in intelligence, whereas the humans are seen as brutal oppressors who de-evolve into beasts through their own instinctive carnal drive to kill ‘non-humans’.
It also brings to mind those long-discussed subjects of study and aid protection which are mirrored in Dr Goodall’s fight for apes’ right to live freely in Tanzania, and the real stories, though seemingly pulled straight out of science fiction, where the legal system in America is currently considering recognising the ‘personhood’ of chimpanzees in New York that work in television and cinema.
The film triumphs owing to three characters that help it achieve greater depth. Maurice, motion capture-performed superbly by Karin Konoval, represents the sage and benevolent being. Just looking into the ape’s expressive eyes or watching him communicate with his hands in silent moments is mesmerising. Also fantastic is the young girl whom they adopt, much to Caesar’s dislike. The child, played by Amiah Miller, delivers an impressive performance with not a single spoken line. Instead she relies more on emotion and mannerisms to create her character ‘Nova’.
Lastly, stealing the limelight and bringing some comic relief to this dystopian future is a zoo chimp survivor performed by Steve Zahn. After a lifetime surviving on his own in the ruins of his old home, ‘Bad Ape’s’ honest surprise, fear and excitement inject real animality into the film which instantly warms him to the audience. Jesse Short
‘War for the Planet of the Apes’ is in cinemas now.