The final stand, apes versus humans

War for the Planet of the Apes (Courtesy 20th Century Fox)

War for the Planet of the Apes (Courtesy 20th Century Fox)

What makes us human? What makes a beast? And where does that line fade away completely?

These are the questions asked in the final film in the rebooted Planet of the Apes franchise “War for the Planet of the Apes.”

Picking up where the last movie left off we find our simian protagonist “Caesar” (Andy Serkis) pushed to his emotional, mental and physical limits as he pits himself against “The Colonel” (Woody Harrelson), an unhinged warlord hell bent on the destruction of ape-kind and the survival of the human race.

As fans of this series can attest the CGI effects look amazing. Not only do the apes look real but the amount of emotion reflected in their expressions is mind blowing. There is never a point where you can’t tell exactly what these characters are thinking and feeling just by the looks on their faces. Combine that with the proven talent of Woody Harrelson and you get some of the best character interactions I’ve seen all year.

Some may be disappointed that despite the title including the word “War” there aren’t many action set pieces during this film. Two battle scenes bookend the movie but a majority of the time is spent learning about these characters and the world they now face.

And to be honest, that’s a major plus.

It gives the audience time to get reacquainted with Caesar and learn about The Colonel as both characters are given great motivation and backstories that put them on opposing sides of the same spectrum.

There are some problems, however, as not all of the supporting cast is as well rounded as our two main leads. This can lead to a muted impact whenever certain plot points occur as we don’t know much about the characters in danger. However the stakes are always kept clear and high allowing for the story to stay on the edge even if we aren’t terribly invested by the characters currently on screen.

That’s not to say that the supporting players aren’t all interesting. We certainly get some memorable ones including a character called “Bad Ape” who lends the movie some much needed comic relief at times, Maurice who provides Caesar with a moral compass and a mute human girl named Nova who lends Caesar an opposing view on what he believes humanity to be.

The only other flaws that I can think of is that certain plot points occur off screen which can lead to a few confusing moments later on in the film. Also, without spoiling too much, the reason why The Colonel wants Caesar dead doesn’t hold up very well once you learn more about the problems his character is facing and should be putting a higher priority on.

But in the end these minor flaws don’t do any real damage to the movie and I would highly recommend it.

A great end to a great character study as Caesar finds what he’s looked for, for so long … his destiny.

4 out of 4 miners.