War for the Planet of the Apes (2017) is the final downloadable film in the modern Planet of the Apes trilogy which had its beginning with Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011). This final chapter continues the story of Caesar (Andy Serkis), a highly intelligent ape living in a dangerous world.
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War for the Planet of the Apes Review
The first film, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, introduced us to a world where apes started to overtake humanity. The sequel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014), detailed a large-scale conflict between remaining human survivors and the tribes of apes inhabiting Earth. This final film, directed by Matt Reeves, wraps up the story of humans versus apes in a surprisingly emotional and effective way.
The film takes place some time after Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and Caesar has gone into hiding in the woods. A band of human soldiers is stationed nearby, and an altercation between the apes and humans turns sour.
This leads Caesar on a dangerous and emotional journey for revenge, all while trying to preserve his species. Although Caesar is arguably the protagonist of the film, he isn’t a perfect hero. At this point in his life, Caesar has been pushed through a fight he never wanted and makes flawed decisions because of that.
The same can be said for the main human antagonist, The Colonel (Woody Harrelson). Although the movie definitely paints the humans as the bad guys, it’s easy to empathize with the reasoning behind both sides of the fight. At its core, War for the Planet of the Apes is a story about humanity; regardless of whether it comes from an actual human or not.
Although the first two films prominently featured human characters, War for the Planet of the Apes primarily focuses on the apes. There are a handful of humans who pop up, but for the majority of the movie, you’ll be watching apes.
That’s not a negative though, as stunning performances from talented actors bring the incredibly detailed CGI apes to life. The pure quality of the visuals is astounding, and an utter achievement in its own right. You’ll very quickly forget you’re watching a movie about apes, and be surprised at just how poignant the characters are.
For a movie called War for the Planet of the Apes, there’s not a whole lot of actual war in the movie. There are a handful of exciting gunfights, large-scale action set pieces, and suspenseful sequences. However, most of the movie focuses on the drama and relationships between the apes and the humans.
As both Caesar and The Colonel attempt to save their species in the only way they know how, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the story. Things can get occasionally slow-paced, but despite the lack of action, the movie stays consistently interesting.
The Bottom Line
Overall, War for the Planet of the Apes is an unexpected but enjoyable dramatic climax. I thought there would be a bit more action and mayhem, but it turns out that doesn’t really matter. The movie stands up due to fantastic performances, amazing special effects, beautiful cinematography, and an excellent script. The story is impacting and memorable, and there are a few smart twists along the way. If you enjoyed the first two films, I’m sure you’ll find War for the Planet of the Apes to be a satisfying and emotional conclusion.
- Special effects are incredible; some of the best CGI work ever on film
- Excellent performances and motion capture work
- The plot is compelling and intelligent
- For a movie about monkeys, it's surprisingly emotional
- The lack of dialogue makes some sequences feel too lengthy
- Doesn't deliver as much action or thrills as the previous film
- Some characters are underdeveloped, despite being very interesting