War for the Planet of the Apes is a 2017 American science fiction film directed by Matt Reeves and written by Mark Bomback and Reeves. A sequel to Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014), it is the third installment in the Planet of the Apes reboot series. The film stars Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson and Steve Zahn, and follows the confrontation between the apes, led by Caesar, and the humans for control of Earth. Like its predecessor, its premise shares several similarities to the fifth film in the original series, Battle for the Planet of the Apes, but it is not a direct remake of that film.
Principal photography began on October 14, 2015, in Vancouver. War for the Planet of the Apes premiered in New York City on July 10, 2017 and was released in the United States on July 14, 2017, by 20th Century Fox. The film has grossed over $181 million and received critical praise, with many critics highlighting the acting (particularly Serkis), story, musical score, action sequences and direction, and some calling it one of the strongest-ever conclusions to a film trilogy.
Some time after the U.S. military was called to fight off an increasingly intelligent and dangerous tribe of apes, the apes clan, led by the chimpanzee Caesar, are attacked in the woods by a rogue paramilitary faction known as Alpha-Omega. AO also has in its service apes they call “Donkeys” that had previously followed Koba, a human-hating bonobo who led a failed coup against Caesar. During the attack, the AO militants are met by heavy ape resistance, and several soldiers, including the gorilla Red, are captured and taken to a secret base inside a cave hidden by a waterfall. Caesar arrives and reveals that to the prisoners that it was not he who started the war, and that now he only fights to protect his family and the rest of the apes. Caesar then learns from the prisoners that Alpha-Omega follows the leadership of a ruthless Colonel. Caesar orders that Red be imprisoned for his crimes, but releases all the prisoners as a peace offering to Alpha-Omega. However, before he can be imprisoned, Red escapes, injuring an albino gorilla named Winter. Caesar then makes plans to relocate his clan across the desert, not wanting to suffer any more ape casualties. The night before their journey, Alpha-Omega infiltrates the apes’ base and the Colonel kills Caesar’s wife, Cornelia, and their elder son, Blue Eyes. During the fighting, Winter betrays Caesar, and escapes to fight with Alpha-Omega.
Leaving his younger son, Cornelius, in the care of Blue Eyes’ mate, Lake, Caesar departs to exact revenge on the Colonel. He is accompanied by Maurice, an orangutan and Caesar’s advisor, Luca, a gorilla and Rocket, a chimpanzee and Caesar’s lieutenant, while the other apes head for the desert. During their journey, the apes encounter a soldier living in an abandoned village and Caesar shoots him when he reaches for his rifle. After discovering his daughter, who is apparently unable to speak, Maurice insists that they take her with them.
Along the way, Caesar’s party encounters Winter in a camp pertaining to Alpha-Omega and learns that the Colonel has departed for a location referred to as the “border”. Caesar inadvertently kills Winter, which causes him to worry that he is becoming like Koba. Further along, they discover some Alpha-Omega soldiers who have been shot and left for dead. Their examination of a soldier who survived reveals that he, like the girl, cannot speak. Later the group meets Bad Ape, an intelligent chimpanzee hermit who lived in the Sierra Zoo before the Simian Flu pandemic. Bad Ape reveals that the human soldiers are encamped at the border, in a former weapons depot that was turned into a quarantine facility when the virus first began to spread and where they now hold apes prisoner.
When the group arrives at the border facility, Luca is killed protecting Caesar from an Alpha-Omega patrol, angering Caesar to proceed alone. However, he is captured by Red after discovering that the rest of his ape clan had been captured, and witnessing them being forced to build a wall with no food or water. The Colonel reveals to Caesar that the Simian Flu virus has mutated and now causes humans who survived the original strain to devolve, becoming mute and regressing back to a primitive state, and Caesar determines that the Colonel is barricading himself in the facility to fend off remnants of the U.S. military, who are coming to defeat him because he favors killing any infected humans – including his own son – to stop the spread of the virus. Caesar is commended by the Colonel for his intelligence, and the Colonel explains he is fighting a “holy war”, for the survival of mankind.
While Caesar is tortured with starvation, the mute girl, whom Maurice names Nova, sneaks into the facility to give him food and water. To prevent her from being discovered, Rocket allows himself to be captured as a diversion. Together, Caesar and Rocket are able to work out a means of escape via an underground tunnel that leads out of the facility. Maurice and Bad Ape use the tunnel to rescue the apes, and Caesar orders the others to escape while he goes to confront the Colonel. As the facility comes under attack by remnants of the military, Caesar reaches the Colonel, but realizes that he has been infected by the mutated virus. Caesar ultimately spares the Colonel, who commits suicide, rather than continue to live as an infected primitive.
During the battle between Alpha-Omega and the military, the escaping apes come under fire from Alpha-Omega. Caesar attempts to attack Alpha-Omega from behind, but is shot with a crossbow by Preacher, one of the AO militants he had previously set free. Red saves Caesar’s life by killing Preacher, and is killed by an Alpha-Omega superior of his as a result. Caesar blows up the facility’s fuel supplies, causing a cascading explosion which wipes out Alpha-Omega and allows the rival military to win the battle. However, the military is subsequently buried and decimated by an avalanche, which Caesar and the other apes (carrying Nova) survive by climbing nearby trees.
The remaining apes depart the facility and cross the desert to find an oasis. While the other apes joyously celebrate their new home, Maurice discovers Caesar’s wound. Maurice then speaks, letting Caesar know that Cornelius will know what his father believed in and fought for. Caesar slowly and silently passes away, and Maurice mourns his passing, watching over the other apes.
Directed by Matt Reeves
by Rick Jaffa
Premise suggested by Planet of the Apes
by Pierre Boulle (uncredited)
Music by Michael Giacchino
Cinematography Michael Seresin
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
July 10, 2017 (SVA Theatre)
July 14, 2017 (United States)
Country United States
Budget $150 million
Box office $181.2 million