It is amazing how director Matt Reeves was able to extract so many emotions out of the prosthetic ape-faces of Andy Serkis, Steve Zahn, Karin Konoval, Terry Notary and the rest of the hairy cast of War for the Planet of the Apes. Having said that, let us get into the brief run up to the present franchise.
There have been sequels, prequels and reboots. There was Rise of the Planet of the Apes in 2011 and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes in 2014, as well as an earlier original Planet of the Apes series. The afore mentioned two and the newly released War for The Planet of the Apes are supposed to be reboots. And, supposedly, the just released one is the final in the trilogy.
The premise is simple—man or animal, who will inherit the earth? In the circle of life, humans evolved from apes, or so we are told. Will the human species disappear over a period of time and evolve back into apes? Science fiction feels so.
Caesar is the leader of the apes who are facing extinction due to one man—the terrorising Colonel who has taken it upon himself to eradicate the deadly Simian flu virus prevalent among apes. He has seen some of his own men, including his son fall prey to the disease. Despite Caesar’s offer of a truce whereby the habitation for humans and apes would be clearly demarcated and not violated, the Colonel decides to capture as many apes as possible and in captivity, they are treated as bonded labour to build a giant wall around his self-styled fortress. Not content with this, his army invades the habitat of Caesar and his clan to exterminate the rest of the apes.
Caesar is a talking ape while many others in his clan are reduced to gestures. Learning of the Colonel’s plan to attack his home ground, he and others plan to relocate to safer places. But, that night, Colonel attacks, kills Caesar’s wife and son and many others. That’s when the normally peaceful, gentle-ape decides that enough is enough and the Colonel has to be dealt with.
Accompanied by his trusted lieutenants, Maurice, Luka and Rocket, they embark on a mission and en route come across a mute orphaned girl, who they name Nova; it turns out that the flu virus has the capability of robbing humans of many traits like speech, for instance.
When the crew close in on the Colonel’s fortress, Caesar is captured. But, his crew work from the outside and with clinical precision, plans an invasion through a tunnel and releases the large family of apes, while destroying much of the facility.
In the end, there is salvation and freedom for the apes, the Colonel and his terrorising army are obliterated and the animal kingdom is left to live in the peace of their natural habitat. Does that mean there are no humans left? I don’t know. Except for the mute girl Nova who clings on for life on to the hairy body of the lovable Maurice, there is no other around.
In a recent talk show with Stephen Colbert, Woody Harrelson who plays the Colonel had evinced a fear that, viewers of the film might hate him for his actions.
Andy Serkis did a wonderful Caesar, all heart and soul for his family of apes.
The benevolent Bornean orangutan Maurice is played by Karin Konoval, while Caesar’s second in command, Rocket, is played by Terry Notary. The mute girl, supposedly the last of the humans who carries the Simian flu virus, is played by Amiah Miller.
The story is easy to follow, so are the limited dialogues, restricted to Caesar, Bad Ape and Colonel. The conversations between the other apes are in their own ‘lingo’, sub-titled for the viewer’s benefit. Although termed as a science fiction drama, there does not seem many unrealistic CGI work, except in scenes like the avalanche towards the end.
Film: War for the Planet of the Apes
Director: Matt Reeves
Cast: Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Karin Konoval, Amiah Miller