WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES is the 9th movie in a series of feature films that began in 1968. And it may well be the best of them.
For this film, motion capture technology made it possible to capture every nuance of the actors' physical performances as apes.
Although this is clearly melodrama with a capital "M," the emotions feel real and it's fascinating to experience a world where people are devolving into animals and apes are becoming ever more human.
Plus, all of these characters mistakenly believe they have good reasons for whatever they do.
Caesar: I did not start this war. I fight only to protect apes.
For the third time Andy Serkis stars as Caesar, the usual peaceful leader of the apes. He tries to avoid all contact with the many humans who want to eradicate apes completely.
Why? Because apes have inadvertently infected humans with a simian virus that is now causing people to lose the ability to speak even as the apes are gaining that skill.
The war begins after the fierce leader of the humans, a madman played by Woody Harrelson and known only as the Colonel, kills some of Caesar's family as well as members of his own family who've contracted the virus.
The Colonel: There are times when it is necessary to abandon our humanity to save humanity.
Caesar's righteous anger over the murder of his loved ones fills him with a hatred that compromises his judgment and eventually gets him caught and thrown into a cage with dozens of other apes.
Colonel: Have you come to save your apes?
Caesar: I came for you.
Steve Zahn (Bad Ape) plays an ape who avoided capture.
Bad Ape: Human get sick. Ape get smart. Then human kill ape. But not me. I run.
Amiah Miller plays Nova, an abandoned little girl who's been infected and is already unable to speak.
Maurice (Caesar's second in command): She has no one else.
Caesar: We cannot take her, Maurice.
Maurice: I understand but I cannot leave her.
Reluctantly, Caesar agrees to protect her.
Overall, dialog is at a minimum in THE WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES which makes its superb cinematography, expert editing, and magnificent musical score really stand out.
I was surprised how by how much emotional impact this blockbuster delivers.