War for the Planet of the Apes: Book v. Movie

It’s not often I read books, but since July I got caught up with the Planet of the Apes books that tie into Rise, Dawn, and War. I’ve grown to love and respect Caesar as one of the greatest characters ever written. Despite what we’ve all witnessed on the big screen, there tend to be some different variations of the same story from what is written for the screen and what is written for a novel.

Since I just finished the novelization for War for the Planet of the Apes and found some differences, I thought I’d share a list of the important ones. Whether these scenes were added or cut short for time or budget reasons, some could say a few of these key moments could have totally altered the final story or enhanced it.

Hopefully my list will catch the casual fan’s attention or spark a debate with the diehard fans. Either way, he is what I noticed:

  • Four apes go with Rocket and Blue Eyes

The first major difference, and biggest difference from the prequel novel Revelations, is the amount of apes who go search for a new home. Rocket and Blue Eyes end up as the main focus here, much like in the prequel, but there were more apes who ventured from the city to find hope.

  • Maurice and Caesar talk about the future of apes after the tribal meeting

Rocket and Blue Eyes share their experiences of their journey with the head apes and the rest of the community. After this meeting, Caesar and Maurice sit around and have a chat about the future of the apes and how important it is to get out of the woods. In the film, we see Caesar and Maurice sitting along the river banks having a chat about Koba after the opening battle, but nothing along these lines ever happen.

  • Caesar is in the midst of a dream, about the end events of Dawn, when the humans attack.

In the film, Caesar is awake and enjoying a quiet moment with his united family when the soldiers descend the water falls. In the book, we get to relive Koba’s death, from Caesar’s point of view. Koba has a lingering presence in the movie, so I want to think this dream sequence at the beginning would have given us a better understanding of Caesar’s struggles throughout the rest of the film. We only get a glimpse of his struggles throughout the film, which I think don’t really allow us to fully comprehend the lasting effects Koba had on the ape community and Caesar.

  • Caesar, upset with the death of family, visits the ape armory.

This scene is short and to the point in the book, covering about a page. I wish it had been included in the movie because it would have been a great tie in for the overall story line in War. The armory highlights how prepared the apes actually were for the war and how the events of Dawn changed security and trust among the tribe.

  • Caesar puts Spear in charge of the apes on their journey to a new home.

Spear was the ape who ran from the opening battle and summoned the rest of the ape army to defend the trench. Spear was also the ape who Caesar cuts down from the X and learns what happened to his apes. Something you wouldn’t have known, without reading this book, is that Caesar actually puts Spear in charge of the exodus when he departs to find the Colonel. Sadly, we all know how that turned out, but this transition of power never takes place in the movie.

  • One of the dying muted humans survives

A handful of infected soldiers get assassinated and left on the side of the trail because they show new signs of the virus. In the movie the apes stumble upon these fallen soldiers and it appears Caesar ends the life of the man who wakes up speechless. In the book, despite having a severe bullet wound to the chest, this guy gets up and runs into the woods terrified of the apes. Caesar wonders about that soldier later on in the book when he is having a discussion with the colonel and learns how the virus has mutated.

  • Spear describes the ambush and blames Caesar for abandoning them before dying.

Caesar cuts Spear loose from the X and talks to him before he dies. The book goes into detail of how the soldiers ambushed the apes on their journey and took them hostage. What I found particularly odd was how Spear blamed Caesar for their capture, saying he wasn’t there to lead them. In the movie this conversation still happens, but not to the same extent. Caesar carries this burden with him throughout the rest of the novel, while we are only left with a few glances on how the apes felt about the leader after his capture. Apes are mad and disrespectful to their leader, the movie just never goes into much detail of how much and why.

  • The Colonel gives a speech to all the soldiers, that is featured in the trailer and book, but not the movie

If you pay close attention to the trailer, the Colonel is talking about history and how this upcoming battle is their destiny. He gives this speech in his green army attire, but in the book he comes out in full dress uniform, medals and all. This particular sequence happens on the first morning Caesar wakes up in the pen with the rest of the apes. The crazy human behavior catches Caesar off guard and leaves him surprised. I thought since the speech was in the trailer, it would be in a movie, which left me even more confused to read it in the book.

  • Preacher talks to Caesar after tying him to the X

Caesar gets hung on the X and right after Red is done tying the ropes, Preacher is alone with the ape leader. The soldier leans in to tell Caesar he owes him one for sparing his life and gives him some details on how to stay on the good side of the Colonel so he doesn’t get himself killed. This was probably wiped from the movie because it would have shown the compassionate side of Preacher, which really wouldn’t have fit well with the ending of the movie.

  • Caesar steals Preacher’s keys

When Caesar is done talking with the Colonel in his quarters, where learns of the virus mutation and the upcoming plans for war, he is dragged back to the big X. Lake starts to sign to him that she is concerned for the concerned for the apes and need his guidance to get to safety. Caesar says he has a plan and when he is pulled up the stairs by the chains, he purposely falls back onto Preacher, somehow stealing his keys in the process. This scene could have happened in the movie because it would have taken no time at all. My only problem with the whole idea of the key is Caesar spends the rest of the time hiding it in his palms! If he had the key to unlock his chains for days, why didn’t he ever use it? It is amazing to me that he hung onto the key in his hand the whole time he tied to the cross! When he finds himself locked in a single cage alone, he never uses it until the night of the escape. Rocket still gets the guard’s keys in both the movie and the book, but Caesar unlocks his own chains before the escape in the novelization.

  • The escape tunnels need to actually be dug

Bad Ape made a discovery that changed the course of the story and the future of apes. In the book, he falls into the underground railroad tunnel, but there are no other tunnels branching off. There are no human escape tunnels down there, forcing Maurice and Bad Ape have to dig with their bare hands. The book goes into great detail about the apes’ bloody claws and tired muscles. They work non stop and don’t get the luxury of man-made escape tunnels (movie version) to work with. I understand these particular details were altered to allow for better storytelling (sick humans) and allow for the apes to move quickly, but changing the tunnel conditions kind of alters our thoughts on their fight for survival.

  • The wall is complete

The apes finished the wall the day before the fighting begins. Minor point on the grand scheme of things, but it is still important to mention. In the movie the wall has a huge gaping hole in the middle of it, which is easy for the attacking army to gain access. In the book, everything is in place to defend the base.

  • Red tells Caesar apes will all be shot in the morning

When Caesar gets put in his cage for the final time and Red tells him that Colonel will shoot apes when wall is done, the dialogue is different from what happens in the book. Red tells Caesar that the apes will shot one by one in the morning, thus throwing the escape plans into high gear. Now when Rocket, Lake, and Caesar are signing about the escape and how plans have to change, Caesar says humans will kill humans but never mentions the urgency that everyone will be dead in the morning. Maybe to avoid a panic this is never brought up, or maybe it was just looked over in the final draft for the film. It did however make me more anxious to know that the apes have to pull the escape that night or else.

  • Drunk Colonel talks with Caesar before the escape

To add another layer of drama to an already tense storyline, Caesar unlocks himself from the chains and then Colonel pays him a random visit. The only reason why the Colonel is not clued in on what Caesar is up too is because he is drunk. He’s stumbling around and slurring this speech, so Caesar is very confused on why the Colonel is visiting him, when he’s in the middle of an escape. He is not sure if the Colonel knows about their plans or not, and if he’s there to catch them. The Colonel wastes valuable escape time in this scene by rambling on and on about nothing and everything all at the same time.

  • Colonel kills Malcolm

In his drunken rant with Caesar, the Colonel confesses that he met Malcolm once and that he spoke very highly of Caesar. Malcolm tried his best to pursue peace but the Colonel didn’t want anything to do with that, so he shot him. If you ever wondered what happened to Malcolm, he was killed. In Revelations, we learn that Malcolm and his family leave the city with Rocket and Blue Eyes. They travel down the coast together, before heading off in separate directions.

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