For nearly fifty years, the Planet of the Apes films have been enduring successes. The key to their longevity has been their depth, making them more than action-adventure ‘monkey’ movies. They have always been about how humans should share the world and accept those that are different. Unfortunately this theme is more than prevalent today with prejudices still sadly seen. The third in the re-booted series and ninth movie in the overall franchise, War for the Planet of the Apes continues these issues in its usual startling manner.
Leader of a tribe of genetically enhanced apes, Caesar (Andy Serkis) fights a never-ending battle. At war with earth’s humans, the reluctant simian warrior just wants peace amongst all its inhabitants. That becomes unlikely due to people such as The Colonel (Woody Harrelson) who stops at nothing to eradicate the apes. The ongoing antagonism quickly escalates with the war’s conclusion only allowing one victor to rule the planet.
War for the Planet of the Apes succeeds due to its integrity. This isn’t a quick sequel cash-in full of non-stop action. It’s a thought-provoking adventure-drama film filled with genuine emotional intensity. The action is incredible but it’s the personal moments in between that stay with you. Caesar’s conflict feels genuine as he battles his animalistic and intellectual side and tries not to give in to simple hate. This drives him and his friends to seek new horizons amidst a gripping tale of survival. The narrative connects seamlessly with previous entries, making this an invaluable addition to the series.
Director Matt Reeves deserves praise for making us care about CGI apes. Each have their own characteristics making them unique and are amazingly rendered. Unlike many CGI-driven films, this work is exceptional in its detail for the primates and overall effects. The CGI allows you to fully invest in the story with a freedom of movement adding to the realism. The cast are all first-rate although it’s amusing seeing how the apes are more interesting to watch than their human counter-parts. Money has clearly been spent in all areas to craft a solid movie and it is gratifying knowing care has been taken in producing a good story.
War for the Planet of the Apes rounds out the current series well. Whether it’s the final chapter is up to how many box office dollars it makes. It’s a great sequel and a strong western-style move in its own right. It does good credit to a long-running franchise continuing to fascinate decades after it blazed a trail on the silver screen.
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Rating out of 10: 8