War for the Planet of the Apes (2017) Review.

The third entry in the rebooted Apes series is a phenomenal showcase of CGI and dark story-telling.  


The rebooted Apes prequel series has been without doubt one of the most surprising successes of modern cinema.

2011’s Rise of and 2014’s Dawn of  were both met with critical acclaim, as both films raked in over £1 billion at the box office.

Now we have War for the Planet of the Apes, the darkest and bleakest of the three movies, but arguably the best.

The film picks up where the last ends. The army that was said to be coming at the end of Dawn is now here, and the opening scene is all-out warfare between the humans and the apes.

Caesar (another champion performance from Andy Serkis) is once again the ape at the helm of the colony, but when he suffers a horrendous loss at the hands of the Colonel (an excellent Woody Harrelson), he sets off on a revenge path with a thirst for blood.

This movie, directed once again by Matt Reeves (Cloverfield), is a fantastic blend of western and Vietnamese war-epic. But unlike the title may suggest, this isn’t just an action movie.

Many themes are thrown into the mix. Morality and slavery are two of the biggest factors that are examined in great depth. Michael Giacchino’s score perfectly builds the tension levels during the action scenes, but also makes the mood delightful sombre in heart-warming ones.

Once again, the CGI is mesmerising, but beautifully you forget to notice it after the opening 15 minutes. Serkis – the king of motion capture – stands out for his performance as the notorious leader of the apes.

15 years on from his debut as Gollum in Lord of the Rings, the 53-year old has become a legend of this breath-taking method of film-making. The emotion he captures and portrays is exhilarating, and this is a major reason in why audiences have grown a bond with Caesar throughout these movies.

Some characters return such as Maurice the orangutan, but we are also introduced to new apes, including Bad Ape. Together they go on a journey that tests every emotion they have, and it is scintillating stuff.

The biggest reason for the success of these movies is the decision to make them ape-centric. The original Planet of the Apes (1968) was looked at from a human perspective, whereas this trilogy casts the humans as the enemies. It’s clever, as it makes you wonder whether anyone is exactly in the wrong when you consider what it is both sides are fighting for.

A masterpiece.

12A, 140 mins 




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