What makes humans human? Intelligence? Speech? Compassion? Mercilessness? The apes are undoubtedly more human than the humans in this movie, at least as I would like to perceive humanity.
The movie paints an amazingly realistic picture of the horrors that humans impose upon themselves. It includes war, famine and dehumanizing anyone who is different. It is a bit graphic at certain points, but anyone over the age of 11 or 12 could learn from this movie.
I learned, or reaffirmed what I knew, about human arrogance, ignorance, hatred, desire for vengeance and how to make the world a better place. (It’s compassion and understanding, in case you were wondering).
Caesar is perhaps the most sympathetic character I have encountered. He is flawed, yes, but in such a way that anyone can understand his plight. I wanted to see him succeed in much of his quest, and hoped for certain desires of his to dissolve.
Maurice is my favorite character. He is an orangutan, which by itself makes me adore him as they are beautiful, amazing animals. However, his compassion and unwavering desire to do what will be best for the people he cares about, including a human child he dubs “Nova,” made him someone to aspire to be like. He is dependable, considerate, helpful and caring. He defends his family but he is not vengeful.
Rocket will also capture your heart with his devotion and willingness to sacrifice everything for those he cares about. He is the “hard on the outside, soft and mushy on the inside” type of person (ape) that everyone wants in their life.
Winter represents the plight of survival very well. Aleks Paunovic makes it impossible to hate his character for his shortcomings. Bad Ape provides a perfect dose of comic relief throughout the movie, without giving the impression that comedy is his only purpose.
Colonel McCullough is an interesting character. He is utterly despicable, but I still admire his commitment. He is the epitome of intolerance, and his character shows how intolerance will ruin the world. The only good thing about Colonel McCullough? He is not a hypocrite. Congratulations to the writers and Woody Harrelson, though, on creating such a well written and portrayed character. I wanted to scream at him, “If you want to save humanity, try emulating the people you’re trying to destroy!” and a well-done villain always makes you want to scream.
The babies are, of course, adorable. My heart breaks for Cornelius and Nova, the two children (ape and human respectively) that we see the most often. They and the other children go through so much over the course of this movie. It becomes yet more commentary about how every single action we make affects the children around us and in the world. And our children are often the ones who suffer the most from any adverse effects of those actions.
Cinematography and Score
This movie is beautiful in all ways. In its characters, its scenery, its shots, and even its horrors: it is beautiful. Matt Reeves and his crews worked well together to create a masterpiece of cinematography.
Often with movies that feature battle scenes, the shots are either too jumpy or too long, usually including far more slow-motion than is necessary. War for the Planet of the Apes found the perfect length of shots, and the few slow-motion scenes worked well.
The graphic designers and their technology deserve a shout out as well. The increase in quality and realistic appearance of the apes since The Planet of the Apes (2001) is astounding. While I did enjoy the 2001 movie, I much prefer the design specs of the latest installment. Not only is the realism of the themes abundant, but the realism in the design makes the movie far more serious, even when comic relief is inserted.
The score worked well. They inserted music at the right times and it never distracted from the story. It was used to build suspense and express sadness. It also allowed for relief at certain points. The score and sound effects were overall done well as their insertion into the scenes were seamless.
War for the Planet of the Apes is an incredible movie that will make anyone reflect on their own actions and beliefs. It will make you think and question what it means to be human and what you want it to mean. We get to decide what it means to be human, and this movie makes that clear. Regardless of intention, this movie is a call to action. It calls for us to be better and think about how our actions will affect the people around us and the world we call home.
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Genre: Drama, Sci-Fi
Director: Matt Reeves
Actors: Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Karin Konoval
Running Time: 2 hours 22 minutes
Rating: Rated PG-13 (sci-fi violence and action, thematic elements, and some disturbing images)