War for the Planet of the Apes

This film is every bit as stunning as Wonder Woman.

War for the Planet of the ApesDirector Matt Reeves’ War for the Planet of the Apes is an astonishingly dramatic film. The third film in this ape/human saga rivals the emotional impact produced by Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Though this is a film that is easy for many of you to dismiss, you make a great mistake in doing so. Ironically, the struggle of the apes’ to survive the human onslaught is extraordinarily similar to the fate of Native Americans over the past several centuries.

Caesar (Andy Serkis) hopes to finally live in peace with the surviving humans. Unfortunately, a heartless human colonel (Woody Harrelson) seeks their annihilation. Directing his colony to travel to a safe location,  he leaves on a personal journey of revenge against the colonel.

Joined by a few friends who want to help, they accidently bump into two loveable outcasts who become a member of their small team. The first is known as Bad Ape, played in hysterical fashion by Steve Zahn. In addition, an 8-year-old human girl, Nova  (Amiah Miller) joins them, and she soon earns the love and respect of Caesar.

Without giving anything else away, suffice it to say that Caesar discovers that the humans have captured the group of apes that he abandoned, and they are being held captive as they are forced to perform slave labor. Caesar is now confronted with choosing between revenge and finding a way to help the apes escape, and the ensuing battle will grab a hold of your heart as it challenges your senses.

Mr. Serkis’ role as Caesar hopefully will earn him Oscar consideration. He gives a vibrant performance that rivals his portrayal of Gollum in the above-mentioned Lord of the Rings series, and he will tug at your heartstrings as you root for his survival.

As for Mr. Harrelson, his colonel is as smart and sinister as the role played by Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now (1979). He is ruthless for a reason relating to his role in the death of his only son, and his demented desire to destroy the apes resembles that used by the Nazis to exterminate Jews during World War II.

While there is not a bad performance by anyone in this film, I have to point out Karin Konoval, who played Caesar’s loyal friend Maurice. A tree sloth, he has a heart of gold, and his decision to save the life of young Nova will leave all of you smiling with joy.

While I make no apologies for crying in many films, the end of this movie brought back the tears that I wiped away at the end of this year’s Logan. The film’s dramatic conclusion follows a monumental battle that involves striking special effects, and you know that not everyone can come out of this struggle for survival alive.

So here’s to you Mr. Serkis. Your gut-wrenching film has a depth that will hopefully result in a large group of movie goers setting aside their apprehension to see you on the big screen.