For those who have seen War for the Planet of the Apes, it’s easy to come to this conclusion – the movie isn’t about war or the planet, and it’s not necessarily even about the apes.
The movie is about survival and the choices we all make when one wants to survive, good or bad.
Being the third in the trilogy, War for the Planet of the Apes takes us back to a familiar world from previous films. A “simian flu” pandemic has greatly reduced the human population while boosting the intelligence of apes. Humans, led by the Colonel, want to survive by killing the apes, and the apes, led by the alpha ape named Caesar, also try to fight their way to live.
With a story that should have been full of conflict and violence, War for the Planet of the Apes takes a different approach – it only has small pockets of action and most of the film consists of quiet conversation. While recent sci-fi movies have become known for their action scenes, War for the Planet of the Apes has taken science fiction in a thoughtful and intelligent direction.
In order to survive, characters, good or bad, all have to make their decisions. They all wander in a moral gray area where evil acts are committed for understandable reasons and characters we sympathize with have serious flaws.
For example, we would find the Colonel to be nothing but evil at the beginning of the film since his ambition is to kill every ape in existence. But the movie grants him his reasons. He has a long conversation with Caesar in the middle of the film, in which he explains his ideas and his personal history, so that we have a glimpse into a troubled personality.
War for the Planet of the Apes may not be the action and monster film that you had in mind, but it’s the kind of film that will make you want to sit in silence in the theater for a few minutes after it ends, taking in what you’ve just witnessed.
The few movies that have that effect are usually about humans, but this film made people feel that way about apes. And that’s what makes it a masterpiece.