Following Rise and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes the trilogy concludes with War. Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his ape tribe are being hunted by soldiers and a devastating attack on their camp leads to a personal quest by Caesar to end the war.
Whilst titled “War” it is much more of a personal journey for Caesar as he journeys with a small group into the soldiers base. The Colonel (Woody Harrelson) leads his troops like a zealot, giving speeches and shaving his head with a straight razor whilst his troops have daubed their gear with “monkey killer” and other mantras. The references to Apocalypse Now could not be more obvious when the film knowingly references them with a wall marked “Ape-pocalypse Now”. The story of whether Caesar will lose his humanity in his fight with them is gripping and sold in the main by Andy Serkis phenomenal performance.
Whether awards ceremonies will finally recognise motion capture performances must come to the fore following this performance. Serkis conveys such a range of emotion for a fully rounded character the fact that it is covered by state of the art effects must be ignored. Speaking of which, the effects here are so good that you will completely forget that they are there, other than perhaps to wonder how they manage it.
The Apes trilogy is one that has grown in stature with each iteration and this is a startling piece of film making that never loses momentum and provides huge emotional impact. Every plot thread has a purpose and is paid off in due course throughout the story. It also manages to pay homage to the original series of films with character names and a major plot point.
If only more summer blockbusters were this intelligent and this rewarding. It will be a shame to see an end to the series but it is a fitting finale.