War For The Planet Of The Apes: A Necessary Evil In The Way Of Peace

In a thrilling third movie in the reboot series of Planet of the Apes, we see what life after the virus has succumbed to.  The war between Humans and Apes is more violent and gruesome than ever, all stemming because of the Ape Koba’s actions in the previous movie.  War of the Planet of the Apes guides the audience through loss, trauma, and a war far greater than the movies we’ve seen before. 

It is safe to say that of all the movies in the reboot, War for the Planet of the Apes is by far the most gut-wrenching in the trauma experienced by both Apes and Humans alike.  Caesar is shown to be tired, tired of the war that in its essence, started out of useless miscommunication between different cultures.

War For The Planet Of The Apes

Warning: if you haven’t seen the Planet of the Apes films, there will be spoilers ahead.

Plot: An Ape’s Grievance 

War for the Planet of the Apes begins in the centre of the war between the Apes and Humans.  We follow amidst a scouting party of soldiers led by Captain (Played by Roger Cross).  Trenching through the forest they are confronted by a scouting group of Apes outside a fortress.  It is shown that some Apes have joined the human side, apes that are called donkeys which work under the humans.  One of the scouting apes is shot by Preacher (Played by Gabriel Chavarria) which sets off the opening battle.

There are many casualties on both sides of the war however the apes come out slightly on top capturing a few soldiers including Preacher and one of the donkeys (Red Donkey).  An older and tired-looking Caesar is introduced who now speaks fluently and in a more pronounced way, showing his progression throughout the films.  He lets the captives go with a message, a sign of peace in his eyes.
In the centre of the Colony hideout, Caesar’s son Blue eyes and recurring ape Rocket return from a long-term scouting mission to find a place to live where the apes would never be found again (by the humans).  A heartfelt reunion where we see how the colony has progressed since the last movie.  Blue Eyes and Rocket speak of faraway deserts where the Colony could go, a good omen for the Apes.  However, this is short-lived when a few soldiers, spearheaded by Colonel J.Wesley McCullough (Played by Woody Harrelson) infiltrate the Colony at night and kill several Apes, including Caesar’s wife and Blue Eyes, thankfully not his youngest son Cornelius.  This highlights the intensity this movie provides.

Fueled by Caesar’s grief, Luca, Rocket, Maurice and Caesar set out to take revenge on the Colonel and his human army whilst the rest of the Colony set out for the promised desert.

On their mission, the group find a little girl who cannot speak (Played by Amiah Miller).  Maurice intends to bring her along so the girl joins the group towards the human camp.  At the camp, they see Winter, a white gorilla who betrayed the colony through fear of the soldiers.  Through interrogation, Winter tells the group that the Colonel is heading to the North border and so the group heads north into the snow.
War For The Planet Of The Apes

In the North, the group discover several humans who had been shot by their own kind, later revealing that these humans cannot speak either.  Whilst stopped to scout the area, a stranger steals a gun and horse from the group and rides off to a deserted building.  The group hastily follows.  The stranger turns out to be another Ape like caesar who can speak.  The ape calls himself “Bad Ape” a nod to the way he learns to talk; from listening to humans.  Bad Ape is a whimsical addition to the dreary and violent movie and creates moments of absurdity when needed.  Bad Eyes speaks of a “Human Zoo” further north, and Caesar decides the human zoo is where they need to head next.

Further on, Luca is attacked by a hidden soldier and later dies in the arms of the rescued girl.  Luca’s death makes Caesar question his whole plan and decides to head forwards alone.

Caesar eventually stumbles upon the “Human Zoo” which turns out to be a prison for apes, the apes in question behind his fellow colonists implying the colony had been captured when Caesar’s group diverted.  On the cliffside, he is surrounded by strung-up apes, one of which is still breathing.  Upon trying to talk with the ape, Caesar is knocked out from behind by Red Donkey.

Caesar is imprisoned in the facility and comes face to face with the Colonel, in which the Colonel says he’s been looking for Caesar for a while now.  The Colonel reveals that the virus has now mutated in the survivors making them unable to speak and eventually devolve into a primal state.  This is a direct reverse of the way apes became to be throughout the movies.  The Colonel in an act to stop the spread of the virus decides to kill anyone who has mutated, even his son and superiors in the US army.  The point of the apes being imprisoned is to work to make a wall to prevent the US army from coming to execute him for his choices.

Caesar is walked through the two ape prisons where he is reunited with Cornelius, infuriating Caesar even more.  Tortured with starvation, Caesar is imprisoned and starts to plot an escape.

The remaining members of Caesar’s group: Rocket, Maurice, Bad Ape, and the mute girl (now named Nova) decide to rescue the apes using an underground tunnel system.  Nova sneaks into the facility and gives Caesar her doll, and food/water.  In order to get Nova out, Rocket creates a distraction eventually imprisoning him but allowing Nova to escape.  Maurice and Bad Ape are able to rescue the imprisoned apes using the tunnel system.

Eventually, the Nothern army arrives to attack the facility whilst Caesar goes to confront the Colonel.  It is revealed that the Colonel has been mutated and cannot speak anymore, this is due to the Colonel taking the doll away from Caesar.  The doll in question has blood on it, implying the blood is infected with the mutation.  Caesar cannot kill the Colonel, so instead the Colonel takes the gun and kills himself.

The War has now become human against human and Caesar takes witness to it from the Colonel’s quarters allowing him to spot the escaping apes being under fire between the facility soldiers and the northern army.  Caesar decides to take it into his own hand and attacks from behind, however, he is shot by Preacher.  Red Donkey sees the violence around him and finally takes it in himself to save Caesar by shooting Preacher with a grenade launcher.  This in turn means Red Donkey gets executed by his superior.  Caesar is now allowed to blow up the facility by throwing a grenade at a fuel canister, which wipes out the facility and allows the Northern Army to win the battle.  The explosion, however, triggers a massive avalanche which smothers both the base and Army.  Although the apes plus Nova are able to escape by climbing the nearby trees.

In the closing scenes, the apes make it to the desert.  The wound in Caesar’s arm given to him by Preacher is worsening and Maurice finally catches on to it.  In the final moments, Caesar slowly passes away amongst his fellow apes, finally home.

Loss and Family

Loss comes in many forms throughout the film, a loss that reaches both sides of the war.  The first sign is one of unorthodox reasoning but created a version of Caesar who feared the return of Koba in such a way that he questioned his own morality.  A morality in what to do when saving his family and colony.  Caesar is tested at this moment and realises he is more like Koba than he realised.

Koba’s actions were fueled by his hatred of the humans and what they did to him.  Caesar comes to terms with this fact more than ever in this movie for various reasons; the loss of his wife and son, the displacement of his colony, the continuous war that really has no basis and the fact he can’t shake the effect Koba left on the world.

Colonel J.Welsey McCullough experiences loss in the forward and stubborn way a soldier would.  Upon finding out his son has become mutated and now is devolving into a primal state, the Colonel decides to execute his son.  A tough decision in order to “Save humanity”, he struggles with loss in a different way from Caesar.  Instead of seeking revenge, the Colonel seeks refuge in his fear of becoming inferior to the apes, a trope well known with the moronic nature of humans in movies.

It is a recurring theme about the loss of family, especially the loss of children.  We see this experienced with both Caesar and the Colonel, but also in others such as; Bad Ape who lost his child, Nova who presumably lost her parents and the Colony being a pseudo family who is becoming split with family members splitting off and betraying the ones they once cherished out of fear.  Another heartfelt moment is at the end where Maurice watches Caesar silently pass away.  Maurice respected Casesar as a leader but also as a friend, and the loss sparks a new age for the colony.

A Necessary Evil

Caesar’s main goal since the beginning was to find peace for his fellow apes.  He truly never wanted a war, however, he was forced to fix the cracks Koba left behind.  Caesar had to become the lesser of two evils in his goal of true peace for his colony, and that meant becoming closer to Koba than he ever thought he could be.  Instead of fearing the ape he’d become, Caesar took it in stride and understand the hatred Koba couldn’t seem to shake away.  He realised that instead of hiding away from the ongoing war, he needed to face it upfront and fight for the peace is striving for.  The Colonel’s war on the apes was a necessary evil to finally realise Caesar’s dream, even if he didn’t live long enough to see it.

War for the Planet of the Apes was a dreary and trauma-filled first entry into the reboot series.  The film dives into the extremities of the post-pandemic world where the apes and humans are grasping at straws to survive, and for people like the Colonel, by any means necessary.  Even though it felt inevitable, Caesar’s passing was a comfortable ending for his saga and shone a light into the future of the series.

How about you?  How did you find War for the Planet of the Apes? Let us know, we’d love to hear from you!

Other things you might want to know about:

Is War for the Planet of the Apes the last one?

War for the Planet of the Apes is now not the last movie in the reboot series.

5 years after “War for the Planet of the Apes”, the new film in the reboot series will be aired on the big screen in spring 2024.  Titled “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes”, the classic trope of the apes taking over from the humans is still in full effect, however, lacking the Rise of the Planet of the Apes Caeser.  Plot points beyond that are still up for grabs.

When it comes to the actors playing in the film, the cast will include; Kevin Durand, Freya Allen, Neil Sandilands, and Lydia Peckham with even more on the lineup.  Actors like Freya Allen have already struck well in series like “The Witcher”, so her role in this new film should be undeniable.

If you are interested Disney has announced a release date of May 24, 2024.

Why did humans stop speaking in the war for the Planet of the Apes?

The humans in War for the Planet of the Apes started to show signs of muteness due to a mutation in the simian flu.  Since the survivors still carried the ALZ-113 virus, nothing has happened to them for years.  However, a major plot point is now that the virus makes humans devolve into a primal state, including an inability to speak.  Major characters who held this mutation include; the Colonel, the Colonel’s son and Nova.

Why is War for the Planet of the Apes so good?

There are many reasons why War for the Planet of the Apes was a good movie:

  • Mixed comedy and serious philosophical moments
  • Bad Ape, is an amazing addition to the series in his comical moments
  • Amazing actions scenes and special effects
  • A rewarding close to the emotional saga of Caesar and his goal for peace.

If anything, the best piece of evidence for the movie is so good would be the reviews it received.  On rotten tomatoes, War for the Planet of the Apes received a 94% critic score and 84% audience score.  This is the highest score any Planet of the Apes film has ever got, all across the franchise.

If you want to see the reviews then check out Rotten Tomatoes here >>