Caesar is one of the greatest characters ever written. His courage, leadership, and fighting passion for the freedom and protection of apes will never be matched in any story ever told about Apes. Every horrific thing Caesar experiences in War would have broken any other ape, but love and determination to protect family was all fuel he needed to fight for his life several times over. Dodged bullets, massive explosions, spears, tanks, arrows, rain, and snow did nothing to break his back or his soul.
We have never seen the apes in such a vulnerable position before in the trilogy, so to witness them come together one final time was genuinely inspiring and memorizing. Koba still pays a huge part of this story despite being dead for some time. His followers have turned on Caesar and now pledge loyalty to the enemy humans, which causes more than a few nightmares for Caesar. Everything Koba wished for is on full display in this film, since all he did was thirst for blood and war. Caesar stood against that, thinking there was always a chance for peace, but found himself acting more like Koba after finding himself surrounded by one horrific moment after another. An impending war maybe what this film is all about on paper, but deep within the storyline, this film is really about Caesar’s struggle with his destiny and how he may not be able to overcome his anger to achieve it.
War is an intense rollercoaster, which leaves Caesar staring death in the face time after time. Just when you think this will be it, it’s game over, it’s not. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time because the action is fast-paced and nerve-racking. I never wanted this movie to end for fear of what was to come. There is a lot of blood, sweat, and tears in the movie, not only for our hero Caesar but for every single character involved. Personally, I cried. A lot. Never has an ending to a movie made me sob like a baby. People may think I’m crazy, but this entire film is a tear-jerker. Some terrible things happen throughout and if you are as invested in these characters and the franchise like I am, you may cry a lot. Then again, any emotions tied up in this ape universe really hinge on which side you are on, humans or apes.
There seems to be a dark cloud hanging over the entire movie, thanks to all the barbaric and evil moments scattered throughout. Woody Harrelson is the focal point of most of those moments since he is about as heartless as they come. Some people think this may be one of his greatest performances since he is just so cold, calculating, and reckless. He’s literally not afraid of anything – ape or human – and will do whatever it takes to stay in power. His greedy actions and killer mentality are really the driving forces of the overall story, which in the end cost him more than he could have bargained for. To say his character got what he deserved is truly an understatement, considering I couldn’t have been any happier for the way things turned out for such a bad guy like him.
On the flip side of the dark and sombre theme is Bad Ape. A completely new ape came out of nowhere to bring much-needed life and comedy to such a serious film. I was very skeptical of this new character at the beginning, but he did grow on me and plays a vital part in everything that goes down in the ending. The introduction of his character opens up a whole world of possibilities for future stories because there appear to be other apes out there in the world that is just as intelligent. Meanwhile, Maurice, Rocket, and Luca all fill out Caesar’s inner circle, each playing prominent roles in the story and the grand escape. Without these three wise leaders, who knows what would have happened to Caesar and the other apes. These loveable unsung heroes survive their own brushes with death, but those moments only add to the beauty and importance of their characters. During a war, not everyone is willing to sacrifice their lives, but Caesar has picked the best of the best to be his co-leaders, heart and soul apes who would never hesitate to leap into action when called upon.
The musical score, by Michael Giacchino, really compliments the movie and the action as it unfolds. I felt some notes were a throwback to the original apes’ movies, as well as some sadder piano tones that really pull at your heart-strings. There’s not a whole lot of happiness in the film, so the theme that plays when the apes plan and execute their escape is playful and upbeat. After downloading the score when I got home from opening night, I found myself fighting back the same tears I had while watching the film. This score serves a beautiful reminder of all the sacrifices humans and apes put themselves through to keep their species alive.
Despite the fantastic action sequences and epic storytelling, it is still really hard for me to accept the events that take place in War for the Planet of the Apes. For someone who loves the characters as much as I do, it’s not easy fighting back the tears. I know that if a new chapter is to be written about Caesar and the Apes, the previous one must end whether we/I like it or not. My broken heart will heal because the stories about these apes will live on forever. Some characters may stay the same or change over time, but there is one thing I know for sure – there will never be another series of films about Caesar and his apes as compelling as Rise, Dawn, and War.