War for the Planet of the Apes: A Fitting Conclusion

Twentieth Century Fox's "War for the Planet of the Apes." Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox.

Taking place fifteen years after Rise of the Planet of the Apes and two years after Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, War for the Planet of the Apes brings the trilogy to an end with a fitting conclusion.

Directed by Matt Reeves from a screenplay written by Mark Bomback and Reeves, the film stars Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn, Amiah Miller, Karin Konoval, Judy Greer and Terry Notary.

For two years, soldiers have been searching for Caesar’s base and they’ve finally found it.

Caesar really doesn’t want a war.  He didn’t attack the humans (Koba did in the second film) but he’ll fight to protect the apes and that’s exactly what he does here.  A small group of soliders were captured upon invading and sent back to their base with a clear message: stay out of the woods and leave the apes alone.  Go figure that Colonel J. Wesley McCullough (Harrelson), a feared nemesis for Caesar in this installment, ignores this message and gives way to Caesar’s determination to end this war once and for all after the apes suffer some major losses.

After Caesar sends the rest of the apes away to find a safe home for them, he goes to find the Colonel and end this war.  He does so with the aid of a few of his trusted friends, Maurice, Luca and Rocket.  Along the way, they meet Nova (Miller), a young girl who can’t speak now that the Simian Flu has mutated.  She forms a bond with Luca, the gorilla.  Nova’s addition to the cast ties the films into the original 1968 movie starring Charlton Heston.  The original movie featured Linda Harrison in the role.

Caesar doesn’t want to be another Koba and there’s no doubt that Koba still haunts him even in death.  The Colonel tells Caesar of another group of soliders that are coming and they hate the apes even more than he does.  While it’s possible that the two could have learned to work together, it never happens.  The film ends with the apes finding a new home and Caesar’s life coming to an end.  While there’s been talk of another sequel, I just don’t see how they can go on with this one coming to a fitting conclusion.

Bad Ape makes for a comical addition to the cast.  Played by Steve Zahn, the ape was formerly a resident of the Sierra Zoo in Nevada and now lives in a former ski resort.

“As this story starts, there is no more peace with humans, which thrusts Caesar into a deeply emotional, universal kind of conflict,” Reeves says.  “Caesar has always been unique in that he is part ape, part human, yet neither one fully.  The hope has been that he might be able to bridge the two societies, but now it is clear that this will not come to pass.  What’s so exciting is that in exploring Caesar’s internal dilemmas at this profound moment it becomes a chance to look at a battle we all know:  the war between our intelligence, our empathy and our instinctiveness, and how that forms what defines our humanity.  At the same time as this is a very dark journey, it is also a story with so much spirit in it.”

Nova isn’t the only character or easter egg tying the trilogy into the original films in some way.  In Rise, a reference was made to the spaceship carrying Heston’s character.

20th Century Fox opened War for the Planet of the Apes in theaters nationwide today.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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