Apes Together… Strong! A moment halfway through the movie that defines what War For The Planet of The Apes is about. It’s about Caesar’s (our furry protagonist) Leadership and more importantly, its the final part of “the biblical epic” that the director Matt Reeves never fail to acknowledge in the interviews.(BUILD Interview)
In the first Installment Rise of The Planet of The Apes, we saw the birth of Ceaser and the rise of super advance Apes who made their own community at the California Redwood Forest after escaping from the test facility, where they were being experimented on for a cure of Alzheimer. Unfortunately the cure has a side-effect it leads to high level of intelligence in the Apes and a virus spreads across the globe which we later come to know about in the second installment of the trilogy (Dawn of The Planet of The Apes). The Simian flu has almost wiped the Humans and they are living in a facility without electricity. Dawn is about the struggle of Caesar and a few humans trying to find peace and another ape Koba who could not get over his hatred and in a pure Shakespearean style goes Brutus over his Caesar.
As Dawn of The Planet of The Apes finishes , we witness this scene. As Dawn arrives, the sun rays gleams through the rubble of the City. They provides a warm glow to this scene. Everyone Bows down to him as he descends through the crowd. While Caesar may be a king to them, He was already a king among them in the Starting of the Dawn of The Planet of the Apes. So what is the transition, and what has Caesar become which required such a scene? Caesar after the end of Dawn is not just a king to his People. He is a Prophet, in a pure biblical style he dies and comes back in the second installment. Thus the Apes look at him with such respect. But when the War starts, it is pretty obvious where it is leading to.
(Minor Spoiler in the next Paragraph- Skip if you don’t want to be spoiled. More about the Biblical implication of War For The Planet Of The Apes)
[bigspoiler title=”Click to view the biblical interpretation and metaphors (SPOILERS)”]
We all know the story of Moses and how he led Israelites to safety out of Egypt. Moses was a leader to Humans much like Caesar is to Apes, he is looking for New Land to live upon. While the Colonel (King Ramses ) does not want that. The famous exodus is remarkably similar to the migration of Apes, while the betrayal of Kuba in Dawn and other apes in the third trilogy can be easily compared to the betrayal of Judas, we might not go there. in a scene where Apes are being brutally beaten in the cages, Caesar can not take it and shouts No! Leave him, the colonel turns over to him and whips him in front of the Crowd, but Caesar stays silent much like How Jesus was whipped. And later he is put up on a cross where he stays a whole day much a kin to the crucifixion of Christ.
While talking to an interviewer the Director Matt Reeves remakes :
“We watched Bridge on the River Kwai,” Reeves told the magazine. “We watched The Great Escape. We watched Biblical epics, because I really felt like this movie had to have a Biblical aspect to it. We watched Ben-Hur, The Ten Commandments … When you surround yourself with something that feels emotionally right, there are connections that make sense to you that somebody else might not see.” Those films, Reeves said, informed War’s “vibe.”
It is easy to spot where he got all the inspirations from. War for the Planet of The Apes is a cinematic triumph, it is a biblical movie without being a biblical movie. A great achievement of story telling that will soon be remarked as one of the best of this century!
Last Spoiler and Metaphor:
Then Moses climbed Mount Nebo from the plains of Moab to the top of Pisgah, across from Jericho. There the Lord showed him the whole land………. And Moses the servant of the Lord died there in Moab, as the Lord had said. …….Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone. Deuteronomy 34
As Caesar leads the Apes to the valley, we witness the last scenes of his life. He looks over the valley and the whole new land, the new home of apes. He is at the top of the mountain when he takes his last breath. Leading to the end of our ‘Moses’, the leader of Apes!
Oh yeah, one more thing: Alpha and Omega is the name of the military troop that Colonel Controls , Alpha and Omega are the repeating symbol of god and Christ in Christian Mythology!
War For The Planet of The Apes continues after the point where Dawn Ends, there is a military unit situated in the forest where the Apes live, it starts with a Battle scene , quickly cementing the point that we are infact watching a war movie which is going to be bleak. But Soon a tragedy strikes that transitions the movie smoothly to a Revenge flick. It oscillates between a War movie and a pure revenge movie rendering the title a misnomer.
Caesar is a brilliant Leader, the character is well build, we care about him and his exploits. Andy Serkis has as always crossed the boundaries of Motion capture Acting as Caesar. He did it with Gollum/Smeagol in the Lord Of The Rings trilogy, he did it again with the King kong later, but he crossed all the barriers and has redefined acting with his work on Caesar. In is own words ‘It’s the greatest film tool for an actor in the 21st century, as it means that you can play anything!’ He added, ‘despite your size, your colour, your shape, whatever you are; as long as you have the acting chops then you can play anything’.(Planet Radio)
The cinema puritans would not agree to that, and would lead to the controversial debate which started when Gollum could not be nominated by Academy as he could not qualify as the definition of an actor. Perhaps this time he could be nominated for his exceptional work in the Apes Franchisee.
War For The Planet of the Apes has Woody Harrelson as the antagonist Colonel who despise Apes, who kills his own to survive and never hesitates. An American Leader who is very itchy on the trigger, stops migration of a particular race, despise those who are affected by the flu and are rendered speechless. (Reminds me of certain other American Leader). He has done a great job once again and he is certainly having the time of his life with great movies coming out in recent times, including the less talked about “The Edge of Seventeen”.
The VFX team has lead to Motion Capture to a great heights in the movie, every ape feels real. More than Caesar, Kong, Donkey and Maurice it’s the uncanny character of funny “Bad Ape” that makes the mark. Each scar and hair is rendered beautifully. The first scene in itself is a mastery of Visual Effects, the fog and Apes looks as real as it is possible. If you are looking for an opportunity to look at some magnificent Apes, don’t go to your nearest Zoo; Just buy the ticket for the latest Apes movie and you will not be Disappointed.
The Score from Michael Giacchino is remarkable, the score goes with the scene perfectly. May it be a Battle Scene or an emotional scene, the background score provides the emotions it needs. While the story for Dawn of The Planet of The Apes was far Better with it’s Shakespearean influences from Julius Caesar this movie does not lack in the story department. The only point where it falters is when a character which I am avoiding to mention just not to Spoil the movie provides drink and food to an imprisoned Caesar in wide open. But the movie picks it up soon and provides a gritty and tense climax.
While not very visceral the themes of the movie worked great. One theme which might be hard to gather for a normal viewing audience is the ‘seasonal shift’ in the trilogy. While Rise and Dawn felt like as if the movies were taking place in Summers and Autumn. War For The Planet of The Apes could be easily said to be taking place in Winters. The Snow which we encounter 90% of the movie agrees with me. But in the end they sort of finds the Spring.
This seasonal shift might not be as obvious, but kudos to the director Mr. Reeves who made this wonderful epic and a great end to a trilogy of the Planet of The Apes.War for the Planet of The Apes is a cinematic triumph, it is a biblical movie without being a biblical movie.