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

2017 in Cinema:

War for the Planet of the Apes, 2017

Directed by: Matt Reeves

Starring: Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn, Amiah Miller


The epic third and final instalment into the Planet of the Apes reboot series, War for the Planet of the Apes focuses on Caesar (Andy Serkis, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King) and his quest for revenge against the Colonel (Woody Harrelson, No Country for Old Men), while protecting apes from the wars that the humans are trying to instigate. Set after large populations have been wiped out from a disease, the whole film takes place between the woods where the apes live, and the army base where the Colonel is operating from with his soldiers.

There are large parts of this film without much speaking (some with the apes using sign language to communicate, some just without speaking) and these scenes are brilliant. The music in this film is outstanding, and constantly keeps up with the pace of the film. And as for the pacing, it successfully blends a faster, more frantic opening third with a calmer, more methodical approach afterwards (before the final battle), and this is really effective. Everythign about this film is really good; from the acting to the presentation (The Planet of the Apes series of films have come a long way from the men in costumes like the originals). The ending, however, did come across as a little rushed. After a battle against the human captors, another group of humans arrive and thus begins a three-sided battle, but there is one part at the end which felt a bit rushed, which was a shame considering everything else in the film was afforded time.

Going into the film there was a bit of concern about how a comical ape would be perceived; it could be brilliant, or it could ruin the tone of the film: Bad Ape helped. Leading up to his introduction, the film had a sombre feel and Bad Ape’s comical antics helped raise the tone. Some of his jokes seemed a bit unnecessary, but overall his introduction was very well-received.

There wasn’t much human acting to speak about, but Woody Harrelson played his role very well; coming across as genuine in his hatred of apes (as well as other emotions he goes through throughout the film). Special praise has to be issued to young Amiah Miller, the young human girl Maurice (an ape) adopts after finding out she has a disease which prevents speech (an advanced form of the initial Simian Flu). She is absolutely adorable in this film.

An unusual series of films where we find outselves cheering against humanity, but War for the Planet of the Apes is a brilliant finale to this rebooted series (that is assuming they plan on ending it after three). It’s emotional, it’s heart-warming, it’s action-packed and it’s funny. A rare gem among most third-instalment films.


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