Conclusion to the trilogy of the story of Ceaser and his advanced clan of Ape. I was so excited to see this film, as these have been by far the best rendition of the story, surpassing the original, the tv series and the Mark Wahlburg and Helena Bonham Carter abomination.
This film is extremely well done, as were the first two, but it has some odd placements and feels that it is boardering on religious theory in the way that Ceaser’s final destiny is played out. As always there are masses of spoilers in this review so if you plan on watching the film and want to be surprised, come back and read this later…maybe let me know if you saw what I did in the film.
Deep in the Muir woods, soldiers stalk through accompanied by a band deserter Apes, each identified with Donkey inscribed on their backs and slogans such as Monkey Killer on their helmets. They also have AΩ branded on their foreheads to identify them as part of the alpha-omega devision.
The small troupe come across an Ape guard on horse back and feel that they have found the base camp of the Apes. This is called in and orders are given to take the camp out. As the Ape on horse back is taken out a full scale retaliation takes place, where most of the humans and donkeys are killed. The few survivors are taken to Ceaser, where one of the soldiers instantly identifies him, stating that they thought he was dead. One donkey, Red, has also been captured, and he explains that the donkeys were followers of Koba and they have no fear of Ceaser. Ceaser explains that followers of Koba joined mans battle as they were too frightened to stand against them after Koba’s death. Ceaser ultimately decides to send the soldiers back to their platoon as a peace offering, a message that if humans leave Apes alone the wars can stop.
After the release, Ceaser’s eldest son returns with news of a new place where they could move the clan which would be out of the woods and safer for them all to live in, away from humans. They plan to move there the next day. Over night there is a surprise attack by the leader of the ΑΩ who kills Ceaser’s eldest son and wife, leaving just his youngest son Cornelius alive. Ceaser chases after him, but is unsuccessful in his attempts to capture him.
The Apes pack up to move the clan and it is identified that Winter, the white gorilla who was one of Ceaser’s counsel has usurped to the ΑΩ as he was freighted that they wouldn’t make it to the “promised land”.
Ceaser makes the decision that he is going to leave the clan and hunt down the leader of ΑΩ to kill him as we know from previous films that Ceaser can bare a grudge. He leaves Cornelius in the care of Lake, the mate of his dead son, and goes to leave on his own. As he takes off on horse back, Maurice (the orangutan), Luca (the black gorilla) and Rocket (the balding chimp), join him, and after a brief discussion on whether they should go with him or not, the band of four take off. The symbolism of 4 is not lost on me, with 3 of them riding dark horses and one on a white horse…giving the viewer the feeling of the four horsemen of the apocalypse…or Ape-ocalypse.
They find an encampment of soldiers and with them is Winter, the 4 Apes confront Winter and he tells them that the leader has left to go to the boarder. The confrontation ends with Ceaser killing Winter, which brings echoes of Koba reminding him that Apes do not kill Apes.
They start to travel to the boarder, they find a homestead where a guy is gathering wood. When the guy pulls a gun on Maurice, Luca and Rocket, Ceaser shoots first, killing the man. As they investigate the homes for anything useful to take with them, they find a girl who seemingly can’t speak. Maurice says that he can’t leave the girl on her own and convinces Ceaser to let him take her with them.
As they move on, they hear gun shots and getting to the place from where they heard the assault they find three bodies. One is still alive, and Ceaser asks him why he was shot, only to find that he cannot speak, like the girl. Maurice advices that the man will not live with the wounds he has, so Ceaser shoots him to put him out of his misery.
As the Apes investigate the area, something comes and steals a gun and the white horse, the Apes chase after the “thing” and end up in an adandoned souvenir shop, where they eventually find that it is another Ape, who can speak. He calls himself Bad Ape, and gives the gun back when he realises they aren’t humans. They spend the night with Bad Ape, and he explains that the reasons humans can’t speak is that the strain of simian flu has evolved and makes humans unable to speak, almost making them primitive, but he has also been exposed to the virus which has enabled him to speak. He is not a genius Ape, but just like a run of the mill human, showing that the virus is having the opposite effect on Apes. He is cowardly and brings some odd comic relief to the film. He initially refuses to take Ceaser to the boarder as he knows where it is, but when he finds that Ceaser’s son was killed by humans he agrees to take them there.
As they travel to the boarder, we see that the girl has started to learn sign language as she indicates to Ceaser that she is thirsty, he shares his water with her, which is the first sign that he gives her that he is accepting her. They stop just near the boarder and Luca picks a cherry blossom and puts in the girls hair, another indication that she is being accepted by the Apes.
As Luca and Ceaser go to investigate the boarder, Luca is stabbed by a solider, but Rocket jumps in and defends Ceaser, killing the solider. As Luca lays dying the girl places the cherry blossom behind his ear and seals her exsitance with the Apes.
Luca’s death enrages Ceaser and he runs to look at the camp at the boarder, finding that all of his Ape clan have been captured and are being held in cages. He tells Maurice, Rocket and Bad Ape to take the girl and get out of there, as he will face this on his own.
Ceaser is ultimately captured as there are too many humans for him on his own, and he is put in an enclosure with all the adult Apes. He sees his son in another enclosure where all the young Apes are. His own kind are wary of him and he finds Lake and she explains that they have been through a lot. The next day the Apes are put to work building a wall, they have not been given food or water since being captured and they are weak. When one Ape falls through exhaustion he is dragged out and whipped by Red, but Ceaser steps in and this ultimately ends up in a confrontation with the leader. He is later taken to the leaders quarters and he explains that the simian flu infected his son, so he shot him and anyone else who got it. It becomes clear that ΑΩ are not under government orders but have formed their own militant group. They are building the wall because the humans from the north are coming not to join them, but to errandicate them. The next day food and water is delivered to the Apes, and Lake identifies Ceaser as their life saviour.
Ceaser has been strung up in a crucufcation style device and water is tipped over him, but it is a freezing climate and this freezes to him. He is eventually cut down and put in a single cell, being told that if he is still alive in the morning he will be put to work with the others, but he is not given food.
Maurice, Rocket, Bad Ape and the girl have been watching the events from afar and trying to find a way in to the camp. They have found underground tunnels and figure they can get the Apes out, but need more information about how far everything is in relation to the over ground. The girl just walks directly in to the camp on seeing Ceaser suffer, fetching him water, and collecting grain from the other Apes and taking to him. She gives Ceaser a doll that she has been carrying. The Apes on the outside panic about how she is going to get out unseen as soldiers come to investigate what is happening and as the girl hides, Rocket walks in to create a diversion. Rocket is captured and put in the group enclosure, and starts to sign to Ceaser about a plan.
The next day the leader of ΑΩ is surprised to see Ceaser alive and puts him to work with the others. Finding the doll the leader picks it up and inspects it. Rocket and Ceaser get to work counting steps from the enclosure and signing to Maurice who watches through a pair of binoculars. Once they have the requirements they go in to the tunnels (where Ape-ocalypse is scrawled on the walls) and work on digging out the ceiling so that they can get the Apes out. The girl keeps watch for them.
Bad Ape manages to break through to the adult enclosure, but where Maurice is digging starts to let water through as he goes to look at what Bad Ape has done.
As the Apes are returned to the enclosure, Bad Ape sticks his head through the soil, and Rocket introduces him to the others. They identify that the tunnel is flooding so will not be able to get the young ones out and Ceaser is still in solitary confinement. They devise a plan to get the young ones out over ground, and get one solider to enter the enclosure who is killed but Rocket gets the keys. The keys are given to Ceaser who gets the young ones out and transfers them out across a wire above the unit to the adult enclosure. As the Apes descend in to the tunnels, Ceaser goes to take his revenge on the leader. Just as this happens, helicopters arrive with humans from the north and a battle commences. Soldiers are trying to get their leader out of his accommodation but there is no answer and they think he has made a run for it. When Ceaser finds him, he realises that the doll that the girl gave him has infected the leader, rendering him speechless and begging for death. Ceaser decides to leave him to his fate and the leader shoots himself.
Ceaser then goes to return to the Apes and get them out, but finds the battle commencing and soldiers on the wall trying to defend their unit. Red is with them loading launchers. Ceaser has picked up a belt of grenades from the leaders room, and spots a leaking tanker. As he goes to throw a grenade at the tanker he is shot with an arrow in his side by one of the soldiers he let go at the start of the film as a mercy plea. As the solider closes in on him, Red sees what is happening, and in a moment of clarity shoots the solider attacking Ceaser, finally realigning his loyalty back to Apes. Ceaser manages to get a grenade to the tanker and as it explodes it kills everyone on the bridge including Red.
Ceaser is badly injured but fights to get to the clan as they are struggling to get away from the unit while the vicinity is under fire. He helps them get through and to the edge of the woodlands, but just as he does, all the explosions have disturbed the surrounding snow, and an avalanche begins. Ceaser who is the last Ape to escape stands near watching the humans from the north as they celebrate the annihilation of the militant unit, but they spot Ceaser and turn their guns on him. Just before they start shooting, the avalanche comes in to full effect, leaving Ceaser to flee, and the Apes take to the trees. All the humans are wiped out by the avalanche.
As the snow settles again, Ceaser sees all of his remaining clan in the trees. They then start to make their way to the promised land.
After days of travel, they arrive. The mute girl has been taken in as part of the clan and as the Apes rush to their new home, Ceaser and Maurice stop under a tree. Here the filming gets a nice Vaseline ting and Ceaser reveals to Maurice that he is injured and dying. Maurice promises to keep the story of Ceaser strong and that his son will never forget him. As Ceaser dies the camera pans back on the new world with Apes living happily overlaid with Maurice holding Ceasers hand. This is fairly reminiscent of that film that they always show at Easter about the story of Christ and made me groan at the connotation that Ceaser died for the Apes.
This is, for all intents and purposes a fitting end to the trilogy, but I am not sure that I really buy in to the fact that it felt that the Apes were establishing the bases of religion.
I really like the horseman analogy, with Ceaser depicted as death, Luca as war, Rocket as famine and Maurice…carrying the infected child as pestilence as this showed no regard for who it impacted….death was brought to Ape and human alike, famine descended on the Apes in the unit after they were captured, war was already wagered and pestilence presented to the man who throught he was eradicating the disease, but this is where the religious symbolism should have ended. Instead they used Ceaser to make him clearly the saviour of the Apes….having him strung up and persecuted for the crimes which he did not commit (Bringjng the simian virus to humanity when it was humans that brought it on themselves), and the death scene at the end, having all Apes follow the word of Ceaser. It was just a bit cringy for my liking. Obviously there were other indicators…Winter playing the role of Judus, who goes against Ceaser, but ultimately tells him what he needed to know…the apparent pilgrimages, the persecution of Apes generally….I’ll stop now but you can hopefully see what I mean.
I also didn’t understand the comic timing of Bad Ape. I understand the film needed some light relief, but there were real pinnacle moments where the cowardly actions just made a farce of the action going on around him. Also he did remind me ever so slightly of a character out of the Vicar of Dibly (No, no, no, no, no, no).
All in all, it’s a great film, but there are just elements I can’t get on board with, but this should not stop any of you going to see the masterpiece of the cinematography that this is. It’s wonderfully shot and has great sets, costumes and CGI effects.
Treat yourself and follow Ceaser’s final escapades.