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War for the Planet of the Apes

In Rise of the Planet of the Apes, a serum enhances the intelligence of apes and causes a spread of a virus that wipes out much of the human race. In Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Kobo and Cesar are pitted against each other in alternate views on how humans should be dealt with. In the newest movie, the darkest and most psychologically penetrating of the three, Cesar stands off against Colonel (Woody Harrelson), an especially cruel leader of one group of humans and many ape slaves, after he kills Cesar’s wife and other members of the clan. How that confrontation happens I won’t say, but it makes for an extremely impressive story. The film reflects on several themes, such as racism, slavery, and the nature of war. It is much more deeply psychological than the other two, showing both the best and worst of human/ape nature in the standoff between Cesar and Colonel (there is one scene that rather awkwardly and unnecessarily references Apocalypse Now, even though the allusion is clear enough without it). The film has wonderful special effects, is funny in places (the ape who Cesar and his small band happen upon in the mountains reminded me of Gollum in the Lord of the Rings), and is wonderfully acted, particularly by Andy Serkis as Cesar and Harrelson as Colonel and the intensity of their dislike for each other. Big thumbs up for a very thought provoking and entertaining film that is a great ending to the trilogy; I personally thought this was the best of the three. If you haven’t seen these films, I highly recommend them all.

About Gary Burkholder

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