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

Title – War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)

Director – Matt Reeves (Cloverfield)

Cast – Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn, Karin Konoval, Amiah Miller, Terry Notary, Michael Adamthwaite, Judy Greer

Plot – Hunted by the humans, ape leader Caesar (Serkis) decides to track down ape-hating army Colonel (Harrelson) and end the bloodthirsty war between man and monkey for good.

“I did not start this war. But I will finish it”

Review by Eddie on 28/07/2017

Not even the most optimistic of Ape’s fans would’ve ever dreamed that this trilogy of films, set in the universe that began with the 1968 Charlton Heston classic and was seemingly doomed by the misguided Tim Burton blockbuster of 2001, would’ve ever been this consistently fantastic.

Starting out with Rupert Wyatt’s better than it had any right to be Rise in 2011 and built upon by Cloverfield and upcoming Batman director Matt Reeve’s larger scale commercial smash Dawn in 2014, War for the Planet of the Apes brings the journey of Andy Serkis’s wise ape leader Caesar full circle with another visually stunning and very much above-average summer blockbuster narrative.

It’s a credit to all involved that War lives up to the standards set by its predecessors and for any fans of the recent Ape entries, there’s little doubt that this film will be considered just as good if not better than those that have come before it.

War director Reeves has quickly set himself up as a filmmaker of note, from Cloverfield’s mysterious beginning’s, the underrated Let Me In and the deservedly praised Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and this big budgeted effort further establishes his talent in crafting strong characters around some stunningly conceived visual spectacles.

Filled with the emotional nuance and deeper than to be expected themes that have elevated the recent Ape’s entries, War wastes very little time in building itself as another higher level blockbuster as we’re thrown into an exhilarating forest stanza between man and ape that culminates into some big decisions for Caesar and his loyal tribe of followers, that will eventually see Reeve’s turn War into a true battle of the species as Caesar comes face to face with Woody Harrelson’s crazed Colonel Kurtz like army head.

The narrative that takes place here further allows Andy Serkis to work his motion-capture magic with Caesar in a performance that really should be considered for end of year awards recognition.

Its faultless work by the beloved actor, who doesn’t put a foot wrong in his turn that his now honed over the 3 films and Caesar remains a likeable and inspirational leader for these stories that have been able to leapfrog off Serkis’s immaculate work.

It must be noted that all motion capture performers, of which includes the likes of Steve Zahn and Judy Greer, are all on top form here as is the CGI work of Weta, who have once more set the bar higher for what we can expect in concerns to this type of film magic.

In an age where CGI is becoming less of a spectacle with over stylised and increasingly cluttered events, Apes is often jaw dropping in its realistic depiction of its furry stars and makes an impressive case as to why you should see this film on the big screen.

While there’s so much to like with Reeves and his teams film, not everything in War comes up trumps in a way that would’ve made it almost the perfect example of an unmissable blockbuster event.

Woody Harrelson, whilst perfectly suited to this type of deranged creation and clearly relishing the limelight, is one of the films let downs with a character that feels like his constantly going to get his real “game-changing” moment but The Colonel never really reaches his full potential despite Harrelson’s best efforts. Scenes shared with Caesar or The Colonel shaving his head while addressing a crowd of adoring ape-killing soldiers showcase just what might’ve been had Harrelson been given a little more to do and it feels like a missed opportunity to allow Caesar to truly go head to head with a human adversary worthy of his stature.

The other slight disappointment for Reeves film is for a movie that begins its title with the word “War” it feels as though we’ve been a little slight changed by a film that without going into full spoiler territory feels light on for actual warfare and like Harrelson’s creation, its arguable that Reeves missed an opportunity to deliver on the full arsenal at his disposal and for those seeking full-blown apes vs human mayhem, you’ll leave War feeling relatively underwhelmed.

Final Say –

With this often brilliant film being the supposed finish to this series, there’s now 3 films worth of sufficient evidence to suggest that this trilogy should be regarded alongside the very best of our adored franchises. While War for the Planet of the Apes may let us down a little bit with the “war” aspect of proceedings, there’s so much else to like in the film and with Serkis and his ape army as good as they’ve ever been, Reeve’s film is one of 2017’s must-see big screen events and a fitting culmination for this series as it stands today.

4 pairs of unnecessarily worn sunglasses out of 5

18 responses to “Film Review – War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)

  1. I think the Colonel was as well developed as he possibly could, considering we only get a handful of scenes with him. I really dislike comparisons, but whereas other movies might present the bad guy as merely bad, War puts effort into humanizing him.
    He killed his son. He kills his own men. He is getting ready to battle a better prepared, human army. The little speech he delivers to Caesar is top notch, as well.
    That is why it feels so sad when he finally puts a gun to his head. He was done in by that which he hated the most.

    That being said, this is my favorite movie of the year. Andy Serkis deserves some awards recognition because holy God, his performance is spectacular. And the visual effects are breathtaking, conveying so much information in a single glance and gesture.
    Utterly fantastic film!

    • Ha SPOILER ALERT man but yeh I can see your points.
      I felt personally that Woody and his character had a lot more they could’ve done which is why I was disappointed in that aspect of the film.
      But overall this is a great experience.

  2. Good review. I’m glad that you liked it. It was definitely one of the better of the summer season (or of the whole 2017 movie season).

  3. I agree in that it seems mis-titled – but if you think about it, it delved more into the psyche and implications of war rather than actual fighting – but I cried for the duration, something I have not done since Interstellar (2014). That’s definite merit in my book.

  4. Nice review. I loved this movie. There are some clear problems but I felt they were spaced far enough apart that I was enjoying myself more than I noticed problems. It really reminded me of an old Star Trek episode where Kirk would end up enslaved in this weird planet.

  5. Totally agree with the review guys- I actually had the same problems with the film myself. I just couldn’t buy Harrelson’s character. The “War” moniker didn’t bother me as much but there certainly could have been more appropriate titles. “The Great Escape” of the Planet of the Apes might have been better ha!

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