Wednesday, August 2, 2017

War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)


With Rise of the Planet of the Apes I wasn’t expecting anything special. I was just hoping we’d get something competent and entertaining. But the movie surprised me with a thought provoking story and engaging characters. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes repeated the trend, going deeper into the downfall of human civilization and the dominance of the apes. With the third film I was hoping we’d get a solid resolution to the story. What we got was something special indeed.


After the events of the previous film, a military force lead by the Colonel (Woody Harrelson) arrives in the Muir Woods to hunt down and kill Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his nascent civilization of apes. These trained soldiers are wrecking havoc, and there are even traitors to the apes cause. Those that used to follow Koba have now become minions to the Colonel’s forces. After a night raid devastates Caesar deeply, he makes a fateful decision.

He sends his people on an exodus from the woods to a new paradise beyond the desert. He will hunt down the Colonel and try to stop the man from following the apes. Caesar isn’t alone. Trusty friends Maurice (Karin Konoval), Rocket (Terry Notary) and Luca (Michael Adamthwaite) join him. Along the way they encounter a little mute girl (Amiah Miller) and a bizarre chimp named Bad Ape (Steven Zahn). As they close in on their target, they learn more about the Colonel and what drives his desperation. But things go horribly wrong and Caesar realizes that this War for the Planet of the Apes may end with the destruction of both species before it is all over.

Good Points:
  • Amazing visuals bring the apes to life and create intense set pieces
  • Brings the story of Caesar to a powerful conclusion
  • Builds on the thought provoking themes from the previous two films

Bad Points:
  • Looking for wall-to-wall action, you’ll be disappointed
  • Looking for a little hope for humanity in this film, look elsewhere
  • A few script conveniences and clichés may distract from the overall impact


I’m not usually a fan of dark apocalyptic films, but these three Planetof the Apes films are the exception to the rule. This installment of the series does a wonderful job on building on previous events and evolving the character of Caesar. Andy Serkis once again delivers an amazing and powerful performance as Caesar. This character is the glue that holds the series together. Harrelson does a great job as the antagonist whose desperations is palatable, and horrific. This is a dark film that forces us to face some dire things. But in the end there is hope, and it brings this wonderful trilogy to a satisfying conclusion… for the apes.

Scores (out of 5)
Visuals:  5
Sound: 5
Acting:  5
Script:  4
Music: 4
Direction: 5
Entertainment: 4
Total:  5

Curious about a full review, sent me an email and I’ll make additional thoughts to this review.

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  1. Apocalyptic tales commonly are metaphors for our individual death: the gorilla in the room, so to speak. I’m not sure why we so much enjoy tickling our inner Thanatos with end-of-the-world scenarios – “end” from the human perspective that is. (Nowadays anthropologists count humans among the Great Apes, but I suppose we shouldn’t get picky.) We do, though.

    I’ve seen only the first entry in the reboot. I didn’t dislike it, but it didn’t encourage me to seek out the sequels. It seems I should reconsider that.

    1. Yeah I was burning out on the apocalyptic stories that we had a rash of there. I'm not sure if the "The Hunger Games" started it, but it certainly felt like that occurred at the beginning of the film trend. We seem to be swinging into full super hero mode these days, so a little apocalypse makes for a nice change of pace.

      "Rise" is a solid film, but I really liked where "Dawn" took the series. Give that one a try, I think you'll like the way they balance the motives and really ratchet up the tension. "War" feels like an extension of "Dawn" with the same creative crew building on the previous film. I've got a blog coming up exploring these films a bit more, but yeah, I have to say this is one trilogy that is worth seeking out.

  2. I've not seen the third installment yet, but I feel as a whole they really did a stellar job or updating the whole series, and making it all feel like it fits in with the other cannon.

    You might like watching/listening to this YT guy's talk about the series on writing:

    1. Check it out. I really think it may be the best of the three. Thanks for the link. I agree with his evaluation.

  3. Looking forward to Thor: Ragnarok?