War for the Planet of the Apes : Ferocious, Raw and Poignant
Survival is probably the strongest instinct known to a living entity. Life on this planet has mutated and transformed from a mere single cell organism to a full fledged human, all in the name of survival. It is written in the history how mankind has always risen from the ashes after countless bloodshed and wars, how even flowers bloomed post nuclear destruction and how minds expanded despite put in unfavorable conditions. War for the Planet of the Apes pits existence and fear in a mighty battle for conquest between nature and consciousness that defies odds with its bold narrative choices.
Heads bowed, reverence in eyes and muted awe from the colony of apes, that’s how we are introduced to Caesar, an year after the events of Rise. Mankind has dug themselves in a hole, surviving in fractions as apes have become far more conscious of themselves. Some apes / humans come out victorious against these feelings and some succumb, an evidence in itself, of the fragility of intelligence at its very essence. Matt Reeves has confidently panned an allegorical tale of man and apes which resembles our time and age while also reminding us of bitter pages of histories. References to the wall built in Mexico, brutalities of the Nazis in the confined boundaries of concentration camps and the actions fueled by mere fear mirrors the global events around us.
Andy Serkis as Caesar is frighteningly raw and real. It’s a revelation of story telling to form a multi dimensional character over a span of three movies whose every motive is well understood. Right from the upbringing of Caesar as an entity grappling with notions of choices in Dawn to the full throttled battle ridden ape leading an entire colony in Rise, we have always seen him at his most confident. But with War, Matt Reeves shows that with intelligence come flaws and even the demigod Caesar is not immune to them. He battles with internal angst and the demons in his visions, identity crisis and then let go of pains to become stronger than ever.
Despite the arc being ape-centric, Woody Harrelson as a colonel fueled with hatred, raising the rebellion flags against the apes comes out as a stark shadow of Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now. There are certain moments in which he steals scenes, even from the mighty Serkis, as Reeves gives him a heavy backdrop making him a well-rounded character whose actions can be comprehended (yet despised) on an intellectual level.
War for the Planet of the Apes is an ambitious epic, a war both at large and within. Despite it’s sluggish pace to set things in motion, it’s a thorough technical achievement which covers tough thematic grounds of misguided leaderships, individualism versus collectivism and speaks of things that are done in the name of fear.