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

Stars: Andy SerkisWoody HarrelsonSteve ZahnKarin KonovalAmiah Miller.

Director: Matt Reeves

The plot:

After an attack on their hideout amongst the woods, Caesar (Andy Serkis)offers a ruthless military Colonel a way to bring peace amongst humans and apes.  He returns, unharmed, the soldiers who survived the successful defence by the apes but rather than accept the offer, The Colonel (Woody Harrelson) attacks again and Caesar and his kind suffer terrible losses.  Caesar begins to feel the hate Koba felt towards the humans and orders the remaining apes to make for the desert whilst he seeks out The Colonel in a bid to end the war.  Caesar tries to carry out his mission alone but is joined by his closest allies and they pick up a human stray along their path to find the military base and The Colonel.

20th Century Fox

The cast:

What can you say about Andy Serkis?  He’s cornered this kind of role and the amount of work he must have to put in to these roles must be incredibly arduous.  The same goes for all the actors in Ape roles.  This must be one of the most and physically draining ways to play a part and they should be applauded for it.  Caesar still dominates the screen and only shares it when Woody Harrelson marks his arrival during a firefight.  Woody is the only one who gets close to the sort of presence Serkis’ Caesar has on-screen.  This was an ideal role for him and his manic portrayal of the determined Colonel serves the film exceptionally well.


The film:

This is certainly THE blockbuster of the season so far, for me, and I don’t see that changing as the summer goes on.  Even from the trailers you could tell that this was going to be something a bit special.  It’s certainly not your brain-dead blockbuster akin to a Transformer movie and it certainly doesn’t give off that smug aroma that many of the Marvel movies give.  It’s a well thought out, often poignant, often sad and very gritty movie.  For a large period of the film it’s almost a road movie as Caesar and his companions traverse difficult conditions to reach the military base.  Ultimately it’s about who would claim the planet for themselves and it’s a very tense journey to reach the conclusion.  Usually for me the effects are secondary to the film itself and that fact remains but this films is so good that to say that the effects match it stride for stride is the highest praise I can give.  It feels authentic throughout.

20th Century Fox

As I arrived early I plumped for the 3D showing.  I can’t really say whether that added anything to the movie but it rarely does.  What I will say is that the film itself was so immersive that anything the 3D brought to the film was not really a very striking effect.  This is very much the best film in this particular series of Apes movies and credit should go to the director for making this film work so well from start to finish.  If there’s anything to criticize it’s simply the running time of one hundred and forty minutes.  The film went slightly off pace in the middle period and probably about twenty minutes of film could have been kept for the DVD extras making it the perfect two hours but that’s a very small issue.

The Verdict: 4/5 Stars – Only the finest monkey business.

War for the Planet of the Apes on IMDb

Planet of the Apes Official Website


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