Caesar (Andy Serkis) reminds us of several persecuted characters in War for the Planet of the Apes. (20th Century Fox photo)

Reel Reviews: Fight for primate predominance

Caesar, (Andy Serkis) leads his ape army, defending against continued attack from the humans

Caesar, (Andy Serkis) leads his ape army, defending against continued attack from the humans. A Colonel in the human army (Woody Harrelson) has been hunting for Caesar and will not stop until every last ape is dead. When the Colonel captures Caesar, holding him in slavery with thousands of other apes, the War for the Planet of the Apes becomes a test of will.

We say, “Apes together, strong.”

HOWE: The most interesting concept of this latest installment of the Ape franchise is the way the story is laid out. This time the story is told to us from the ape’s point of view and it works very well. We are presented with man’s seemingly innate need to destroy anything that he does not understand or that threatens a power position or humans’ ability to survive. There are many potential themes in this movie. You decide. We definitely end up rooting for the species that has the ability to show mercy.

TAYLOR: In this third film, the Simian flu has given rise to a new human condition. I won’t spoil it by telling you its symptoms, but it fits into the arc of the series. By now, Caesars’ army has had plenty of practice and is a capable force, but the humans have the technology. Apparently, you can give an ape a rifle and put him on horseback but you can’t teach him to fly a helicopter.

HOWE: This movie has humour, emotion, and some good — not great — acting from its cast. Harrelson just for his limited time on screen does what he always does and that is deliver, but the star is, of course, Caesar (Andy Serkis). It is easy to forget that he is a special effect.

TAYLOR: By way of the special effects, for the most part, Caesar seemed very real to me and to most of the audience. Caesar has the advantage of having his emotions played well by Serkis. But the story itself draws you in. It’s the humanity of the apes in their interactions with families and friends and even enemies that makes you care. Unless you don’t, guy in front of me who scoffs at ape empathy… Yet, there is a lot of plucking at heartstrings, particularly for a movie with War in the title.

HOWE: I liked that it isn’t just action or gun slinging lunatics looking to blow up anything and everything that moves. There is a story and I look forward to it continuing in part four.

TAYLOR: I’m waiting for part six, you know the astronauts that disappeared in the first movie are going to be the ones to come back after the transformation is complete, to say, “Oh my God, I was wrong. It was Earth all along. You finally made a monkey out of me.” That hasn’t happened yet. I’ll put up with meaningful staring in the British Columbian rain-forest in the meantime.

Taylor gives War for the Planet of the Apes 4 Doctorates out of 5.

Howe gives it 4.5 head shaves out of 5.

— Brian Taylor and Peter Howe are film reviewers based in Vernon. Their column, Reel Reviews, appears every Friday.