Though revolving around a community of apes, few blockbusters in recent years have studied the human condition quite in the same way that the Planet of the Apes trilogy has managed. The latest instalment, War for the Planet of the Apes, is emblematic of this notion. Studiously lingering on the notion of war and all that it entails, we examine the psyche, blurring the line between good and evil and highlighting the sheer futility of it all.

The conflict between mankind and apes continues on in brutal fashion. Caesar (Andy Serkis) wants nothing more than to come to a peace agreement, but while the apes continue to be attacked, he has a responsibility to defend himself, and his family. Sending the nefarious Colonel (Woody Harrelson) a message, that if humans leave the apes alone the killing will stop, this power-hungry individual sees this as an invitation to exploit the weakness of his opponent, and end this war once and for all. But Caesar doesn’t back down, wrestling with dark thoughts within him and he sets off down the path to vengeance, stopping at nothing in his way.

With an indelible, dark aesthetic and a breathtaking set design, director Matt Reeves has crafted one of the defining war movies of our time, with a distinct inclination to thrive in his sense of impartiality. Naturally we side with Caesar as the hero of the piece, but we meet apes who are a traitor to their species, and we meet compassionate human beings, looking more so into inherent personality traits and enforcing the idea that we’re just like our animal counterparts. As a result we study war in a very simplistic way, almost primitive, taking it back to basics as we cast our eye over intrinsic emotions and the way we operate as a species.

War of the Planet of the Apes Video Review

There are evident influences from Apocalypse Now – and rather palpable ones too, for we see an ape write ‘Apepocalypse Now’ in graffiti on the wall. There’s also a tonal similarity to features that depict the Vietnam War, even using Jimi Hendrix music at one stage, tracks that, through cinema, offer a soundtrack to this time in modern history. Woody Harrelson excels as the villain too, channeling his inner Marlon Brando with this role, with comparisons to be made to the great actor in the aforementioned Francis Ford Coppola masterpiece. The actor has always had this glint in his eyes, a sense of mischief and a distinct unpredictability, and it’s a trait that has always served him well in comedy – and even more so in a production that requires for him to go to truly dark places.

But, and once again, the real stars here are the apes, and it’s a testament to the actors and to the production team that this be the case. Each character is so nuanced, and you can tell who is adorning the screen the second they appear such is the subtle differences to their demeanour and personalities. It’s handy too for the apes do tend to look alike. Just don’t tell them I said so, they’re pretty damn terrifying when they want to be.