War For The Planet Of The Apes

500 Days Of Film Reviews War For The Planet Of The Apes, Starring Andy Serkis and Woody Harrelson

In this the third chapter of his story, Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his apes are forced into a deadly conflict with an army of humans led by a ruthless Colonel (Woody Harrelson).


After suffering horrific losses, Caesar is filled with a dark desire for vengeance and sets off on a quest to avenge his kind. A journey that will determine the fate of both apes, humans and the future of the planet.

Is It Any Good?

I have always struggled with the names of the Planet Of The Apes films. Surely Dawn should come before Rise? I am (of course) not alone in this - as the opening credits of War For The Planet Of The Apes shows. Here in these first moments, we get a succinct sequence recap and all becomes clear.


Or does it… because War For The Planet Of The Apes is not actually a war film per se. Don’t get me wrong, there are many stunning action scenes. However, each battle is there to show the futility of war rather than revel in explosions and bloodshed.


At its heart, War For The Planet Of The Apes is a far more personal and intimate film. This is a movie concerned with the conflict within Caesar - and the battle for his soul.



I love both Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes and Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes. Indeed, I am so invested in the world depicted in these movies (and Caesar's journey) that I felt nervous going into War For The Planet Of The Apes. The trailer gave me goosebumps, sure, but, as we all know, that’s no barometer.


My concerns were soon put to rest. War had me in its grip from its very opening (and devastating) scenes. The arrival of Caesar on screen felt truly momentous thanks to Andy Serkis’ absolutely superb (and highly underrated) performance - a tour de force throughout this trilogy.


Endless praise should also be heaped onto visual effects company, Weta, for bringing the apes to life and making them seem so real (check out those expressive eyes, that wet fur) that we feel a deep emotional connection to each character. 



War has weighty issues to explore and (unlike many action films) you feel the gravity of the situation - the stakes feel real. However, Matt Reeves' film is not an unrelentingly bleak tale thanks to the addition of Steve Zahn’s loveable, bobble-hatted Bad Ape. He injects some much needed humour into the darkness. 


In addition, Caesar and his band of avenging apes are joined by human child, Nova (Amiah Miller), who could help to restore the apes’ faith in humanity. The scenes between Nova and Karin Konoval’s soulful Maurice are really poignant.


The lack of an out and out bad side has always been one of the trilogy's greatest strengths. There have always been good humans and bad humans, good apes and bad apes (War sees the return of Toby Kebbell’s Koba via Caesar’s chilling hallucinations). Even Woody Harrelson’s The Colonel (a brilliantly unhinged, Kurtzian performance) is given a relatively understandable, if deranged, motivation.


War For The Planet Of The Apes could so easily have been an all out simian versus human battle-fest. That Reeves has chosen to retain his

intimate focus on Caesar’s journey makes this film feel all the more powerful. 


As a result, War For The Planet Of The Apes is a surprisingly emotional experience - a deeply satisfying conclusion to a truly superb trilogy.


Random Observations

Yes,  I cried.


I watched this movie in 3D (because on the day I didn’t have any other choice). However, I do not think that this added anything to my enjoyment of the movie.


Have you seen War For The Planet Of The Apes?


If you have, what did you think of this film? Let me know in the comments section below or swing on by Twitter or Facebook!

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Jane Douglas-Jones
Jane Douglas-Jones

E: jane@500daysoffilm.com


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