Film · Film Review

Film Review: War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)

War for the Planet of the Apes is the third instalment in the new iteration of the Planet of the Apes movies. This movie may well cement this trilogy as one of the best we’ve ever had. Read my review…


Rise of the Planet of the Apes gave rise to the virus that gave apes intelligence and started affecting humans adversely. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes brought about the dawn of the drift between genetically evolved apes and bands of human survivors. And now War for the Planet of the Apes is a war for the survival of their respective species between the apes and humans. Check out the trailer below.

This is a great movie. Andy Serkis has crafted Caesar into a fascinating character with an amazing arc over these three movies. Speaking of Andy Serkis, the performances in this movie are brilliant. It is hard to tell what part of the performance is motion capture and what part is acting. I happen to think that 80% of the performance is acting. But the fact that the line between the two is so blurred is a testament to the technological marvel that is the motion capture done by WETA the visual effects company. Yes, Andy Serkis is a master of motion capture, but Steve Zahn as Bad Ape is equally as good.

Source: IGN

The performances are aided by a brilliantly tense story. Don’t be fooled by the title of this movie. The title suggests this is an action movie but it is, in fact, a tightly woven drama. I expected something different going in a movie named War for the Planet of the Apes, but I am not complaining because what I got is compelling and emotionally resonating storytelling. There are many turns in the story that although not completely surprising, are quite unconventional. This adds a lot to the overall quality of storytelling and direction by Matt Reeves. He brings a lot of humanity to the apes…and it doesn’t feel weird to say that.

Aside from the slightly misleading title, there are some pacing issues roughly halfway through the movie that slowed it down a little too much for me. At one point we get a bunch of exposition through Woody Harrelson’s villain the Colonel that slows the story down. Granted, that exposition is important in the grand scheme of things but maybe there was a better way to do it. I also don’t think the Colonel was developed enough for me to care all that much about his character. I could sympathise with the humans’ position against the apes, but not with the Colonel on an individual level. Woody Harrelson was very good in what he was given but he was woefully underused in my opinion.

Hoai-Tran Bui wrote a great article on about how wrong the titles have been for these movies. She makes greats point in the favour of naming the movies Dawn > War > Rise and I can definitely see how that is a much better fit. Knowing the complete story as we do now, that order of titles makes perfect sense. You can check out the article here.

Overall, War for the Planet of the Apes is a great movie that caps off this trilogy and cements it as one of the best trilogies ever made. Andy Serkis is better than he has ever been and as a result, there are other actors now entering the fray and starting to master the art of motion capture. At no point did I ever doubt that those were real apes on horses running through the woods…the visual effects industry has taken amazing strides and these movies are a shining example as proof.

My Score: 4/5 – A dramatic entry into the trilogy that must be seen on the big screen.

War for the Planet of the Apes is out now in cinemas near you. Have you watched it already? Is this now one of the best trilogies ever? Share your thoughts in the comments below or hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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