War for the Planet of the Apes (2017) Review

Time: 140 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence and content that may disturb
Cast:
Andy Serkis as Caesar
Steve Zahn as Bad Ape
Karin Konoval as Maurice
Terry Notary as Rocket
Ty Olsson as Red
Woody Harrelson as The Colonel
Amiah Miller as Nova
Director: Matt Reeves

Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his apes are forced into a deadly conflict with an army of humans led by a ruthless colonel (Woody Harrelson). After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mythic quest to avenge his kind. As the journey finally brings them face to face, Caesar and the colonel are pitted against each other in an epic battle that will determine the fate of both of their species and the future of the planet.

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War for the Planet of the Apes was one of my most anticipated films of 2017. Director Matt Reeves did an excellent job with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the sequel to the surprising Rise of the Planet of the Apes. So naturally, I was excited for what was to come. I am happy to say that War for the Planet of the Apes was even better than I thought it would be. Matt Reeves again delivers on making a compelling film in this series and has truly crafted something special.

This movie probably shouldn’t have been called War for the Planet of the Apes, despite the trailer and the title its not really a war movie, its not an action movie either. There is only a couple of major action sequences, the rest of the film is a drama and I have to give Reeves credit for being willing enough to go much deeper with the story, instead of making the film bigger and more actiony just because its the conclusion of the trilogy. This film is also even darker than Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, its very bleak with only a few bright spots. The stakes are more personal and it focusses heavily on Caesar, it’s the most character driven story out of all the Apes movies. Rise and Dawn partially focussed on the humans along with the apes and because they weren’t as interesting as the apes, their segments felt weaker in comparison. War doesn’t have this problem, it’s almost always focussed on the apes (particularly Caesar) and you care about every moment. This film is slower paced and it is long, at 2 hours and 20 minutes. But it really does work in the film’s favour and helps to tell the story. The story of War for the Planet of the Apes may not be what you’d expect it to be (without spoiling anything) but I can’t imagine it being any better. Absolutely everything in this movie is perfect, Reeves again has made me emotionally attached to a movie about apes, not an easy task.

Andy Serkis is absolutely phenomenal as Caesar, honestly this is the best I’ve seen him in a movie. It’s been great seeing him evolve as a character from Rise, to Dawn and now War. This movie is Caesar’s story. Most of the main characters are apes and all of them are great, a standout (like in the previous movies) being Karin Konoval’s character Maurice. There is a new character, with Bad Ape played by Steve Zahn, who I guess you could call the comic relief of the film. This movie is very bleak, with only some instances of humour, and Bad Ape takes up the majority of the humour. This character could’ve gone so wrong, becoming annoying or distracting but that’s not the case. He’s an genuinely entertaining and likable character and Zahn did a great job. There are only a couple of noteworthy human characters. One of them is Amiah Miller as a mute girl, she did a really great job in her role, especially when she interacted with the apes. The other is Woody Harrelson as The Colonel. He works well as a threatening antagonist but at the same time is given some depth and has some motivations for what he does.

Rise and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes had great special effects and War for the Planet of the Apes has effects that are even better. The special effects are incredible, at no point does the CGI feel fake. I’m especially talking about the motion capture work for the apes, most of the characters are apes and all of them are look incredibly convincing. War for the Planet of the Apes has some of the best motion capture in a film ever. There isn’t a massive amount of action (really just two major sequences) but whenever it happens it is done excellently. Michael Giaachino has a bit of a reputation of making passable but forgettable scores, however his score here is actually pretty good, and really adds to the movie. Matt Reeves’s direction of this movie is overall perfect, there’s nothing I have an issue with really.

War for the Planet of the Apes is not just one of the best films of the year, it is also one of the best blockbusters in recent years. The fantastic direction by Matt Reeves, the excellent performances (particularly from Andy Serkis), and the deep and complex story truly make this an incredible movie. I will say for those going in, keep in mind is that it’s a full on drama, don’t go in expecting an action film. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes has a mix of drama and action, War for the Planet of the Apes is a drama. Matt Reeves did a great job with this film, I don’t know how it could be any better. I don’t know whether there will be any more sequels but if this the final instalment to the franchise, then it’s a fantastic conclusion to one of the best film trilogies ever.

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