War for the Planet of the Apes

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What is it with filmmakers doing ape movies that they want to turn into Apocalypse Now? We saw it with the last King Kong movie, and now this. It makes things so ridiculous when you see the evil and genocidal Colonel McCullough (Woody Harrelson), and he’s even shaving his head like Colonel Kurtz. And just in case you didn’t get the reference, there’s some graffiti in a tunnel that says “Ape-pocalypse Now.”

The movie ends up borrowing from a lot of other films: The Great Escape, Chicken Run, Schindler’s List, Bridge on the River Kwai, Exodus, Ten Commandments, and I even thought of Logan with the addition of a mute girl Caesar and his gang pick up along the way. And if one sidekick isn’t enough, they also pick up a monkey (Steve Zahn does the voice). It’s this Planet of the Apes version of Jar Jar Binks.

Apparently this film is the last of the trilogy, which is probably best. The first movie was good. The second was weak. This is an absolute mess.

Here’s the story. Caesar loses a child in war, and is out to get the Colonel that killed him. I was wondering why the cartoonishly evil villain did that, when back at his bunker, he has others do all his dirty work. So…he’d risk his life going with a few mercenaries into a cave to try and kill Caesar. I guess they just wanted an excuse to put war paint on him and show the crazy eyes.

A simian virus is killing the humans, and it’s mutating and making humans lose their speech and turn crazy. This leads the Colonel to feel he has to exterminate humans that come down with this virus, while rocking out to Hendrix in his heart of darkness lair. That means the military also wants him dead, despite the fact that he’s assembled a large army of men to fight. And of course, build a wall, which he insists the apes will pay for (sorry, had to throw that joke in). Actually, the apes do sort of pay for it. They’re forced into slave labor to help build it.

The movie did have a few things going for it. The action scenes were well done. The wilderness was shot beautifully. I chuckled at a few of the things painted on the soldiers helmets (Bedtime for Bonzo was my favorite, but you wonder how many younger folks will know the early ‘50s Reagan movie).

The movie did need a bit more humor, although they tried with the goofy monkey character, which made me roll my eyes each time.

The score was ridiculously over-the-top. We don’t need to hear strings when Caesar hugs his son.

The whole thing was rather bleak and cold, too. It’s a 2 ½ hour movie that, despite the high praise from critics so far, really isn’t worth your time. Yet if you liked the two previous movies, you’ll probably love this conclusion.

1 ½ stars out of 5.