Release Date: July 14, 2017
Director: Matt Reeves
Writer: Mark Bomback, Rick Jaffa, Matt Reeves, Amanda Silver
Cast: Andy Serkis, Toby Kebbell, Judy Greer, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn, Ty Olsson, Amiah Miller, Sara Canning, Max Lloyd-Jones, Terry Notary, Aleks Paunovic, Alessandro Juliani, Gabriel Chavarria, Devyn Dalton, Karin Konoval, Chad Rook, Michael Adamthwaite, James Pizzinato, Timothy Webber, Mercedes de la Zerda, Steve Baran, Dean Redman, Lauro Chartrand, Rhys Williams, Billy Wickman, Sandy Robson, Albert Nicholas, Sarah Ziolkowski
Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 142 minutes
Production Company: Chernin Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
There’s a lot riding on the third film in this new rebooted ape’s franchise, and rightfully so. It’s been a fantastic new series so far, delivering nearly everything a fan of such films would want in cinema. Rupert Wyatt was first up to bat in 2011 with a near masterpiece, then followed director Matt Reeves for the finish. One key aspect that makes each a gem is how each transitioned to the next. There’s also a real deep sense of family among the characters that makes you care about the outcome beyond measure. Those being the apes who all look and feel like real individual sentient bodies who love like we do. Andy Serkis as Caesar is a great thanks to that as he brings every moment to life in his performance capture. Once again, he rose to another level and should receive an enormous amount of credit for his performance. Though while War For the Planet of the Apes is another great sequel, its marketing was a bit misleading, that may not land the final blow one would want to potentially end a trilogy.
Yet the role of The Colonel (Woody Harrelson) as the antagonist was surely one to remember. It’s as if he wrote the book on villainy. The man was obsessed with his way of thinking and would go through a mountain to see through. That’s what made his involvement so powerful. The film needed a wall to go through to achieve greatness and The Colonel was that foundation. It’s known that a great villain doesn’t see their schemes as evil, but essentially for the improvement of man. And that’s the same tropes The Colonel dives into 3x over. One of the highlights of the film is an exchange between himself and Caesar who both have their moment to vent. Caesar of course is the ape we all want him to be, but The Colonel is deep within his roots as well. The scary thing is that you completely understand where he’s coming from. He’s right in a sense, but has horrific ways to solve the equation. That doesn’t mean he’s wrong which poses an intense obstacle the film must surpass.
There’s a lovely sense of comedy coming from Bad Ape (Steven Zahn) who hits all the right moments at the perfect time. Mixing comedic elements during times of sorrow and war are not easy feats, but here it’s done with finesse. As mentioned early, all the apes are distinct in their ways. No two are alike, and the number of apes covered is mind blowing with what Matt Reeves and studio were able to accomplish. They even put together one of the greatest openings to a film I can remember in quite some time. Edge of your seat is thrown around a lot but this is a true testament to that expression. Though this is where the downfall of the film begins that’s hard to set aside. With an opening so promising, illustrating the images of war, it soon stops turning into a drama. It’s some of the best drama you could be a part of, but it over stays its welcome far too long. For the film to be titled as such, those goals aren’t met. There isn’t a real sense of war that you would imagine, and that the trailers lead on. The action is still present, and doesn’t hold back, but the feeling of wanting more lows through you.
Then it all comes back to Caesar. He isn’t the perfect leader who doesn’t make mistakes, but he gives it his all and is a great figure to follow in the film. He had a job and got it done which was enjoyable in every form possible. While there’s a misdirect with how the plot will play out, I still respect the concluding moments. It has a realistic aura to it unlike an overtop flashy block buster would.
War For the Planet of the Apes is a remarkable way to come to an end, yet still leave room for more. If your expectations aren’t spilling over, it may turn out to reach your levels of anticipation. There were points in the last film that didn’t add up logically which stood out as plot holes. War for the Planet doesn’t make those same mistakes, but fails to leave your heart pumping towards the end. Overall it’s a great multi course meal that’s absent of a delicious dessert.