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TRAILER REACTION: “War For the Planet of the Apes”

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The final trailer for “War of the Planet of the Apes” has landed with around two months to go before the release of the third film in the much-loved reboot series. As one of the summer’s most anticipated releases, this final look at the film has a lot to live up to and it certainly doesn’t disappoint. I broke down some details and took a closer look at what we can expect from this third “Apes” adventure.

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The trailer for this film is pretty much nonstop right from start to finish, jamming home the “war” concept with guns, violence, and explosions galore. The first scene we see establishes that Caesar and his tribe has come into the possession of human weapons and can handle them pretty effectively. Not much of a surprise seeing as Koba figured out how to use the weapons in the previous film. What’s important here is the apes are conducting a search, either to find something specific or simply to see what’s inside the home. What they find is someone who will surely play an important role in the plot.

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They find a young war orphaned girl named Nova. Caesar is put on the spot about why the girl is with him, with the apes, and Caesar specifically, now having seemingly perfected their speaking from the broken English they used in the past films. This is an important piece to have in the trailer because it establishes that Caesar still has a heart for the humans, noting that Nova “has no one else”. Considering that Nova is said to be an orphan of the war between apes and humans this shows compassion from Caesar for those unintentionally hurt by a war he never wanted to be a part of. “We are not savages. Apes fight only to survive,” Caesar says as we get shots of the apes in their home and a shot of Caesar and his family. I get the feeling that his determination to be a more nonviolent and peaceful ape will be tested in this film.

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We get our first look at Steve Zahn’s “Bad Ape”. At least I assume that’s who this is because the voice matches Zahn’s and he’s on the cast list. He explains that humans have been killing apes ruthlessly. This provides a transition to show the human side of this war where we get a shot of a human army marching in what appears to be part of the ruins from the civilization in the second film or maybe a new location altogether. Considering Zahn’s character is named “Bad Ape” we can assume the Ape is either a bringer of negative news or a spy sent in to to damage to Caesar’s people. More on why that could be a possibility later.

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We get a much better look at the film’s antagonist, Woody Harrelson’s unnamed “Colonel” with him holding a photo of what we assume is his child and delivering a speech to his human army that they will be taking part in a war for the planet calling it “the greatest war”. His continued voiceover establishes his goal, to bring an end to the ape kind they helped create. We only get glimpses of who the colonel really is in this trailer. We’ve seen his ruthlessness with a gun in previous trailers, but here we see him interacting with soldiers and, eventually, the apes themselves, which I’ll get into in a bit. I fear that the colonel may turn out to be a generic villain. We’ve seen the type of character he is presented to be in the trailer before and I’m going to trust that Harrelson can bring some life into his villainous role. This final trailer does a great job of driving home the threat the apes will face and once again it looks like humanity will be put on the spot for it’s misgivings. It’s a narrative that has continued throughout the series and even its legendary source material and it doesn’t look to slow down here.

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One cool shot that is shown during the colonel’s speech is a shot of Nova riding on the orangutan Maurice, a consistent character in the films who appears to have adopted Nova as his daughter. This scene is set on a snowy mountainside opposed to the greener backdrops of other scenes featuring the apes’ home. Which means they’re probably looking down on the human operation in shock over what is to come, or maybe what is already happening. Even Nova looks a bit concerned. It makes me wonder if this is Maurice taking the weaker members of the tribe away from the fight and him seeing what his tribe will be up against. This could also be an escape of some sort from the human compound, which we already saw was covered in snow opposed to the much greener home of the apes in the forest.

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Probably one of the coolest shots in the whole film is a human soldier firing off rounds at the apes, but look! There’s a ape right there with him! That ape is a gorilla named Rex, a traitor of Caesar’s tribe who supported Koba in his attempt at a coup. GOing back to the “Bad Ape” character, I believe it’s possible that the “Bad Ape” could be a double agent that Rex coordinated to inspired Caesar to want to fight the humans.  Apparently Rex is still a bit irritated with his fellow apes and has switched sides to help the humans. He is shown loading this same gun and “cheering” as his fellow apes are gunned down. Look for a showdown between Rex and one of the main apes, possibly Caesar, to take place in this film. It’s also interesting because is drives home yet another continued theme from the second film, that apes can be just as bad as the humans they despise. It’s intriguing to see an Ape traitor among the colonel’s ranks, which will hopefully create a worthy secondary villain for Caesar to have to deal with.

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As the trailer enters its final minute we get voiceovers from Caesar who is clearly embracing his more animalistic tendencies. We see him apparently bash in the head of a defeated solider and apes getting ready for battle as they charge through the forest. “This is war,” Caesar says. “Apes together strong,” which has become a catch phrase of the entire series.

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We see apes escaping a human compound, so we know that either the apes will take the battle to the humans, or the humans took the battle to the apes and came out with prisoners of war. Or are these prisoners from another tribe? Could these be apes being freed by Caesar’s tribe to build his army? Regardless what we get next is my favorite part of the trailer

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We see an exchange between what I assume is Caesar (we only see the back of the ape in question) and the colonel. It’s a very human and lighthearted conversation with the colonel giving the apes credit for their knowledge and superior strength, but seemingly out of touch with the violence he and his people are producing. “You’re taking this much too personally,” the colonel says. It’s an interesting line because how can Caesar not take it personally? What is the mindset the colonel has that justifies this kind of violence? I would have liked to see the reaction of the ape he is talking to, but maybe that is better left for the film. Maybe he’s not talking to Caesar. Maybe he’s talking to his ape ally Rex. He seems very calm in this shot, so whoever he is talking to he doesn’t see them as much of a threat. This promises to be a pivotal point in the movie as we may see a great villain-hero dynamic develop in this moment, if that is Caesar talking to the colonel. I’m excited to see this exchange play out to its fullest and I hope it lives up to the expectations I’ve personally set for it because it could provide a borderline iconic moment if done properly, no matter who he is talking to. This could be the moment that establishes who the colonel is and why he is doing what he is doing.

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We get shots of both the apes and the humans going into battle, one in the ape’s forest home and the other on the snowy mountainside. I’m pretty sure these are from two different conflicts, but the trailer shows them to us to define the difference between the apes and the humans and how they roll into battle. It’s a great pairing of movie moments to establish the conflict we will see unfold and the parties that will play a role in the war to come. It also pretty much confirms there will be multiple battles, so the war will not be just the finale. This will be an elongated conflict that probably makes up several segments of the film.

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My favorite shot of the trailer is Caesar defiantly pushing his head against a gun held by the colonel. He looks like he has lost, so it’s likely the apes are outmatched by the humans in what could be the final conflict of the film. Caesar’s defiant stare shows the face of one who may have been defeated in battle, but whose spirit is staying strong as he faces down potential death. We can almost guarantee something will happen to prevent Caesar from biting the dust in this moment, but it’s a cool shot that further drives home the villain-hero dynamic and Caesar’s more noble personality in the face of his enemy.

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As the trailer reaches its end we see war, and plenty of it. Explosions galore, including a grenade versus fuel tank incident, and seemingly endless gunfire drive home the violence and the conflict that will no doubt litter this film. Caesar throws the old I didn’t start this, but “I…will..finish it” line out there. We also see an avalanche headed toward the human compound, likely as a result of the fuel tank explosion. It’s chaos, and war is really just that, organized and planned chaos after all.

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The final trailer for “War of the Planet of the Apes” has a lot to offer for a film with huge expectations. We’re going to get war. We’re going to get socially relevant messages. And we’re going to see a side of Caesar and humanity that we probably don’t want to see. We’re also going to get a few villains, both human and ape, that I personally can’t wait to learn more about. I’m excited and I hope you all are too. Let me know your thoughts on the trailer and watch the full trailer below. “War For The Planet of the Apes” hits theaters July 14.

 

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