War For The Planet Of The Apes is coming soon and the chimpanzee we have come to know is struggling with his morality. In 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes, we met Caesar as a newborn after his mother, Bright Eyes, was killed while immersed in a protective rage trying to conceal him. After she passes, a scientist at Gen-Sys, Will Rodman, takes Caesar home and cares for him as one of the family. It is because of this upbringing that Caesar inherits his sensibility towards others whether they are humans or apes.
2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes saw Caesar establish a colony of apes in the forest outside of San Francisco. As their leader, he promoted peace and encouraged the apes to respect each other as they continued to evolve. Their peace was short-lived though, as a group of humans discovered their location and threatened their way of life. After he was betrayed by a fellow ape, his fragile relationship with the humans was destroyed.
War for the Planet of the Apes picks up several years after the end of Dawn. It turns out that the distress calls that were broadcast by the small group of humans were received by a group of Special Forces soldiers who had taken refuge 800 miles north of San Francisco. Woody Harrelson is the Colonel of the elite unit who has been hunting the apes for nearly two years. He is a ruthless leader who is determined to start an all-out apocalyptic war to save the human species. The Colonel believes that as the apes continue to evolve, humans are actually devolving and becoming less advanced by the day. It is this belief that drives him to use any methods necessary, no matter how cruel, to attempt to wipe out the apes and cure humanity of the Simian virus.
As the Special Forces descend upon the apes, we find Caesar in crisis. His long held belief that apes and humans can live together in peace has been fractured. His morality has been damaged and he begins to mistrust the ape principles that define him. The suffering he has seen has instilled a deep anger within him that is tearing him apart. He knows the apes are in trouble and that they must assert their dominance if they are to ever have a peaceful existence. Caesar is struggling between dreams of revenge for his family and the future of his species.
Co-writer Mark Bomback, “It’s totally surprising because no one would think Caesar was capable of anything approaching hatred or fully breaking ranks with humanity. But we now have him in a place where he can, for the first time, understand the hatred that he saw in Koba, the former lab chimp. It’s terrifying for everyone around him, because Caesar has always been the moral center of the group. And if Caesar spins out of control morally, what happens to the entire society? That is ultimately what the movie is about.”
What path will Caesar go down? It’s unclear if he will succumb to his anger or continue to take the high road, but with a ruthless protagonist, it seems as if Caesar will have no choice but to abandon his love of humans if the apes are to survive. War for the Planet of the Apes is sure to pit the apes and the remaining humans in all-out war. I don’t think I risk anything by saying this because the spoiler was already released in 1968, but… the apes probably win.
War for the Planet of the Apes hits theaters on July 14th. Let us know your thoughts on the latest installment of the Planet of the Apes trilogy!