It’s the final installment in the Planet of the Apes series. It should really be City of the Apes instead of Planet, but that’s just how it goes. If you’ve seen my reviews for the other titles, then you’ll know that I’ve been less than pleased with the series so far. The first film was the only one that I gave a decent score. (Depending on your definition of decent) Luckily, the series ends on a relatively high note as this one definitely defeats the second, third, and fourth films. I dare say that it can even defeat the first film. Making it an uphill battle for future Ape films to defeat this one. Why was I so impressed with this film? (Compared to the others anyway) Well, this film may have been a little on the boring side for a while, but it also corrected most of the problems that I had with the series.
The plot begins in the far future. An ole Ape is telling his audience about an ape named Caesar and how he had a good adventure. We go back to the past and Caesar now rules over all. The humans had another one of their wars and everyone in sight died. The few humans who lived through it were brought to the Apes to work as slaves. Caesar likes how things have turned out and he even has a kid named Cornelius. Unfortunately, the gorillas are starting to rebel and their newfound leader is Aldo. He believes that humans should be destroyed instead of enslaved and he seems to be pretty dangerous. Caesar doesn’t really consider him to be a threat, which is either brave…or overconfident. It’s a little ambiguous. MacDonald advises Caesar to check out the recordings of his parents and they wander into an abandoned city. Turns out that some mutants (Humans who were affected by the radiation) live there and now it’s time for the war to begin anew. The mutants will launch a final counter offensive to destroy the apes once and for all. Which side will prevail!?
Caesar is back to being our lead in this film although he’s pretty distant at times. He’s technically the main character, but you almost wouldn’t know it from the way he acts. He’s grown old and some of the members are beginning to realize this. The humans essentially work as his slaves right now although he likes to think of it as a friendship in the making. Once the two sides understand each other…there will be harmony. It’s a pretty intriguing strategy, but it’s one that would likely never work. Caesar just isn’t likable by the end because he’s a little too oblivious to everything that’s happening. He never even suspects who attacked his kid and he’s pretty isolated in his little hut. He doesn’t even hear the loud sounds of war when the attack first begins and he refuses to go out because he’s with Cornelius. He’s definitely not the general that you would expect. He still does have a solid glare that he shares with the others once in a while, but it’s just not enough.
MacDonald is in this film, but it’s not the same MacDonald from the last film. This one is the latter’s brother, but he retains the same personality. He wants Caesar to give the humans more freedom, but he plays along with the system for the moment. He has big plans and they all come to the surface at the end. It’s a risky gamble and it only barely pays off. He was all right I suppose, but there’s not much to say about him. He was just there.
General Aldo is one of the main villains in this film. He wants all of the humans to be destroyed and he has several followers. Their goals are ambitious and not even Caesar can stop them. Aldo is openly rebellious and the others seem to fear him. His misplaced pride in his methods keeps him from being a likable character. Whether human or ape, both species have some bad apples. His fight against Caesar was very brief and it definitely didn’t make him look like a powerful warrior. I guess he was all talk after all.
Governor Kolp is The main villain of the film. He is the leader of the small pocket of human resistance and he definitely won’t allow the apes to keep their city. He wants his men to destroy everything so that the Apes can be their slaves once more. This guy is obviously not a sympathetic villain and he’s also pretty weak. He’s the type of guy who ends up going on a long monologue and panics at everything. He’s completely unreasonable and war is the only thing on his mind. Maybe he would be a little more bearable if he would actually fight….but he can’t. He’s a pretty forgettable villain in the grand scheme of things.
So, as I mentioned earlier, this film was a definite improvement over the last one. General Aldo and Governor Kolp are mean villains, but we don’t have to be reminded of this constantly through shocks and other such scenes as in the last film. These guys just come out swinging and they’re not all that subtle about it. The climatic fight between Caesar and Aldo is pretty serious business and while it’s short, it easily beats the last few climaxes. This was a fight that you could get behind and the stakes were real. It was very cheesy and unintentionally funny, which made it more enjoyable than the overly long revolt climax that we got last time.
Of course, that still couldn’t stop the film from being pretty boring. You never really care about what’s going to happen. After all, it’s a story about how awesome Caesar is so there are only so many ways that the film could go from there. Starting out the film as a story is never a good idea. Luckily, the film is decently short so it doesn’t have a whole lot of time to drag on. It goes through the motions and as the viewers, we just play along.
Another negative for the film would be the previously segment. It’s pretty long and utterly unnecessary. If you forgot the plot for one of the most basic franchises out there, then it’s time to go and order some Doritos loaded. We get to see most of the scenes that we’ve tried to hard to forget. From the apes leaving their suitcase where anyone could find it to the final fight scene of the last film. This flashback took up quite a few minutes and we just didn’t need it.
The setting for the film plays out like the Walking Dead. It’s a sandy area without any real kind of life. The civilization is pretty primitive and most of the inhabitants are still finding their place in the world. Enslaving the humans essentially restarted the cycle, which felt a little bit like backtracking as well.
Once again, I’ve also got to criticize the big plan of the Apes. Having everyone lie down in the middle of the road to wait for the enemies to come is a pretty terrible strategy. They could have been stepped on or shot. The odds of such a plan succeeding are pretty low. This doesn’t help to show how much smarter Apes are than humans either. They got off lucky that time, but what about the next time the humans strike? They better have their weapons ready.
Overall, This Apes film was more enjoyable than the others. It essentially did away with most of my complaints. It didn’t develop into a very solid film either, but being boring was really its only big problem. It’s like watching a LOTR film, but at least it only lasts for a little over an hour and a half. Nothing really gets accomplished in the film. The only big event in the film is the human’s attack upon them. The rest is just the Apes talking and everyone being upset about their current predicament. Yes, I definitely wouldn’t recommend this film and you’re better off watching some old Naruto re runs. There is a happy ending though so maybe the cycle can finally stop…maybe. We’ll see if the Burton remake or the latest remake will be able to get a more positive score. It’s hard to picture…but it could happen. After all, this film gave us a ray of hope.