In the aftermath of the attack in which the apes gained the upper hand, there are four live soldiers remaining who are being held captive by the apes. Caesar (Andy Serkis) arrives, and it is clear from his entry that he is the revered leader of this clan of apes. He orders that the four men be released with a clear message to be delivered to their leader that he did not start the war, and that he wants peace between the apes and the humans. Soon after their release, Caesar's son, Blue Eyes (Max Lloyd-Jones) and Rocket (Terry Notary) a lieutenant to Caesar and close friend, return from a reconnaissance mission to find suitable safe haven for the apes to relocate to where they can establish themselves away from humankind and live in peace. They report that they have pinpointed a perfect place for them across the desert and with plenty of water.
The next day, Caesar departs to seek out his revenge on the Colonel. He leaves his youngest son, Cornelius (Devyn Dalton) in the care of Blue Eye's mate, Lake (Sara Canning), and has every intention of going it alone while the clan make for their safe haven beyond the desert. However, Maurice (Karin Konoval) a wise and trusted Bornean oragutan, Rocket and Luca (Michael Adamthwaite) decide to accompany Caesar on his perilous journey, and reluctantly Caesar agrees.
In time Caesar, Maurice, Rocket, Luca and the girl make it to the Colonel's camp, but notice that it is being evacuated. Caesar learns from another captive ape that the Colonel has departed for the 'border' where a new Alpha-Omega camp is being established, but none of them know where the border is. They decide to follow behind the outgoing convoy of Alpha-Omega and along the way discover three human soldiers shot and left for dead and buried in the snow. Uncovering the bodies, one remains alive but like the young girl, cannot speak. He soon dies from his wounds. Caesar is left wondering why the Colonel would turn on his own?
Continuing their journey they meet up with another ape in an abandoned resort hotel. Bad Ape (Steve Zahn) can speak, and converses with Caesar that he has been living alone all these years keeping out of harms way, and that he originated from the Sierra Zoo before the Simian Flu pandemic. He learnt to speak human from his captors, who chided him and berated him calling him, Bad Ape! Bad Ape reveals that he knows the whereabouts of the border encampment, and reluctantly agrees to take them there.
Caesar is tied to a cross at night in the freezing conditions and is then locked up in a solitary cell, and tortured with starvation and hard labour too. Maurice calls the young girl Nova, and she sneaks into the camp under cover of darkness and gives Caesar the rag doll, as well as food and water to revive and sustain him. Rocket allows himself to be captured as a distraction to Nova being found out. The next day when the Colonel inspects Caesar to determine if he still lives, he notices the rag doll in his cell. Asking where it came from, everyone is clueless, so the Colonel takes it with him. Caesar is strengthened by the food and water from Nova, and so hatches a plan with Rocket to effect an escape for all the apes using an underground tunnel that leads out of the camp. Maurice and Bad Ape co-ordinate and execute the escape plan setting free all apes. Caesar goes in search of the Colonel intent on killing him as his final act of revenge.
The camp then comes under attack by the US Army. As Caesar reaches the Colonel he sees that he has fallen victim to the virus that he was so intent on halting himself, and can no longer speak. Caesar pulls a gun to the weakened Colonel's temple, and sees the rag doll on the floor beneath the bed - the source of the virus infection. Caesar rethinks and pulls the gun away laying it to rest on the Colonel's bedside table and turns away. The Colonel picks up the gun, and shoots himself in the head.
As the US Army approach the now decimated Alpha-Omega camp and let out a collective rallying cry, they turn almost in unison to look at Caesar looking at them. Then, with a tremendous roar in the background, they observe a huge avalanche of snow and ice hurtling down on them from high above the mountain caused by the earlier attack commotion. They too are wiped out without a trace leaving Caesar and his clan looking on from the safety of high trees that they were able to escape too to evade the treacherous avalanche. In the aftermath of this, the apes regroup and Caesar leads them to beyond the desert and their safe haven, where the gathered clan rejoice in their new found freedom, the wide open spaces and the land of plenty.
This is a fitting end to the latest and most successful of this franchise reincarnation yet. The CGI and motion capture technology behind the anthropoids is quite stunning, making for a more realistic experience backed up by a smarter, stronger, layered sequel that for the third instalment in a series is unusual in itself. The film serves up raw emotion, gritty action, epic spectacle all underpinned by first rate believable performances, assured Direction and a story you can invest in. At over 140 minutes long however, perhaps just a tad too long, that said, the film moves along at a fast pace and never labours. Talk of a fourth film in this rebooted franchise has already been mooted. Catch it on the big screen while you can - you won't be disappointed.
-Steve, at Odeon Online-