Director: Matt Reeves
Cast: Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn, Amiah Miller, Karin Konoval, Judy Greer and Terry Notary
“Apes together strong,” said the bravest hero of the apes clan, Caesar, and thus begins the painstakingly long tale of revenge, redemption and a war between homo sapiens and apes. It's a tale that has neither done justice to the inclusion of ‘War’ in the movie's title nor has it explored the optimum potential of a genre as enchanting as sci-fi.
If you are one of the many completists of the ‘Planet of the Apes’ franchise, then you may want to sit through this 150-minute torture of a war drama.
It’s been 15 years since a deadly virus ‘simian flu’ swiped the humans off the face of the Earth and enhanced the powers of the hairy, hefty-bodied apes. Caesar (Andy Serkis) is now a salt-and-pepper brute with a wife and two sons. He resorts to a life of isolation with the rest of his community in the woods, until one day a retarded colonel invades their territory, causing apocalypse and awakening the beastly fighter in him that declares a leisurely war on the nutcase who seems to be obsessed with the idea of genocide and torment for no apparent reason, as he has gone rogue on the US army.
Several aides are introduced at regular intervals but none of them add to the diegesis nor help in moving the storyline forward. While the apes have been glorified to an insane extent, humans have been given dehumanising traits. Unfair!
We cannot just talk about Matt Reeves’ direction without mentioning how lackadaisical he has been with the tone and pace of the plot. The characters, most of which talk in hand gestures and sign language, are neither personable nor hard-hitting even during those fleeting moments of warfare and turn out to be a major letdown.
After ‘Edge of Seventeen’, Woody Harrelson’s loony act came in as a breath of fresh air but his potential as a mean-spirited man at loggerheads with the apes has been underused. With those stern eyes and versatility of a veteran, Harrelson could have turned this sloppy role into an award-worthy performance. Of course there are moments of sheer brilliance, but that too, is courtesy to CGI and Vietnam war-like cinematography. A sci-fi film cannot solely ride on visual effects, can it?
If the ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ portrays the futility of war and how it’s unavoidable at the same time, this third installment solely focuses on personal conflict, which goes haywire after a point. Half the movie is over till Caesar meets his nemesis and the altercation scene between them is a plain bummer. Despite it’s shortcomings, ‘War for the Planet of the Apes’ is an interesting metaphor for animal cruelty and slavery prevalent in the early 1900s and even to this day in some parts of the world. The magnitude of physical pain inflicted on the apes is ghastly and very graphic, which can be interpreted as a silent slap to those who are barbaric in their treatment of animals.
One bit that caught our fancy is the US troop building a tall wall right outside their encampment. No brownie points for guessing the obvious.
This war drama, sans the marvels of science, is a complete washout in this franchise and probably the weakest. Plot, character development and the pace of it, all point towards one direction-- epic disaster....