War for the Planet of the Apes

If there was a movie in recent times that beautifully sowed humanity, love and leadership into one blockbuster film, it would have to be the recently released ‘War for the Planet of the Apes.’ Its raw emotion, powerful sequence of silent conversations and emphatic battle scenes formed the unshakable foundations of a production masterpiece.

The movie begins by taking us on a journey with the advanced species of apes as they trekked through densely vegetated forests and wintery mountains. Their ultimate goal was to escape their human hunters and reach a heavenly oasis scouted by one of their apes. Led by their beloved and charismatic leader Caesar, the film begins with him defending his kind in a bloodbath against their human counterparts. The war between humans and apes stemmed from the spreading of a virus called the Simean Flu. This contagious and lethal virus which derived from experiments conducted by humans on apes had broken out and were robbing humans of their motor abilities. In an attempt to abolish the further spread of the virus, a human villain known as the ‘Colonel’ hunts for Caesar and his apes. The Colonel ends up killing Caesar’s wife and son which sets Caesar on a devastating course away from his pack. Not knowing that this was intentional to remove him from them, the Colonel and his army intercepted Caesar’s pack who were en-route to the oasis and enslaved them in his human camp. The apes were made to build defences in the inevitable war between the Colonel and his men against the humans from the north. When this war came, what was anticipated to be an epic battle between humans and apes didn’t materialise. Instead, we see the apes turn the other cheek and escape for their dear lives. This course paid dividends for them as the majority of the pack survived the barrage of canons and missiles from the humans from the north. The Colonel and his men were defeated swiftly by their human invaders who only got to savour their short lived victory before they were wiped out by an avalanche. The future the Colonel had foretold Caesar he feared had come true, the humans were gone and indeed the apes had risen.

As a viewer, I found myself constantly challenged with the irony of what humanity was in this film. We constantly saw the merciless attitude of the humans towards their counterparts and their own kind. They did not share empathy, love and least of all mercy. The irony with all of this was that we saw these humanly traits at every turn by an ape even in the darkest moments of their hate. Film wise, the director did an excellent job creating magical conversations through sign language which made viewers pay more attention to detail as we were forced to read the captions of their speech. This constantly created engagement and it was hard to lose focus and the flow of the film. The battle scenes and moments of suspense created by flashbacks and human-like realisations were worthy of tears. This was more so when we see Caesar triumph in leading his pack in what seemed like Noah leading his people to the promised-land.

The film ends beautifully as Caesar watches his people revel in the warmth of the sun. We see him and his eyes fade away in the midst of the joy as he passed and the film transitions to a warm ray of light.  I was left speechless and in awe.  No more could be said of this film and without a doubt gets ordained by me as one of the best films of the year. Thoroughly balanced with action, story and thought, War for the Planet of Apes gets a 5/5 for me.

Written by Htut Win for Pink&Sparkles