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

The conflict between humans and apes has escalated to a breaking point. With immense casualties on both sides, the coming battle will determine the future for both species.

The third installment in the Planet of the Apes prequel series is directed by Matt Reeves, who returns from Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. It stars Andy Serkis as Caesar, Woody Harrelson, and Steve Zahn, while introducing child actress Amiah Miller. The film also features the talents of Karin Konoval, Terry Notary, Ty Olsson, Michael Adamthwaite, Toby Kebbell, Judy Greer, Sara Canning, Max Lloyd-Jones, Devyn Dalton, and Aleks Paunovic.

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War for the Planet of the Apes is definitely the most action packed of the prequel trilogy. I’ve seen many people call it the best installment. While I personally wouldn’t rank it as the best installment, it’s definitely a good one. Every thing that we’ve seen in the trilogy thus far finally comes to a head, and it is pretty glorious.

As usual with this series, the special effects are pretty great. Over the years that this trilogy has spanned, technology has gotten better and better. Understandably, the digital artists had a lot to work with through this film to really let their talents shine. There are plenty of battle sequences, and the majority of the film centers around the apes, not the humans. It’s an artistic and technological feat.

At this point, I do have to commend Andy Serkis for his performance. He really does become Caesar in this installment. The digital artists do a magnificent job allowing his facial features to come through, and it all works seamlessly together to make the film extremely immersive. If I had to name one thing that makes War for the Planet of the Apes really shine over it’s predecessors, it would be this.

While this is definitely the most action packed installment in this trilogy, it also has the most prominent comic relief. I wasn’t a huge fan of this. The character “Bad Ape” is played by Steve Zahn, and this entails everything you would come to expect of Zahn. His character delivers some kooky lines in a variety of goofy scenarios. There were moments where this was genuinely funny, but overall I feel there was a bit too much. Some of the comedic moments were eye roll worthy.

The comedic relief doesn’t necessarily damage this installment. It’s a fun ride. I really enjoyed it. I just wish that some of the jokes had been left on the cutting room floor. The comedy was definitely an attempt to alleviate the dark tones of the film, and I understand that. It is really dark, maybe too dark for mainstream audiences if left comedy free. It’s just unfortunate that some of these comedic moments cause such a drastic shift in tone.

In the end though, this is a really good movie. It’s really entertaining. The film reaches its end in the only way it ever could. Despite being the third film in a reboot franchise, it’s hard to see that end. As a viewer, we come to really like these motion captured characters, and it’s hard to want to let them go. I’d want to see more.

War for the Planet of the Apes ends in a way that is finite, but also open enough to launch another film if the creators choose to do so. I’m not saying that I think they should. It’s just possible that they could. In the event that they do choose to continue the story, I would hope that future films would be just as good as this installment.

If you’ve been a fan of this Planet of the Apes reboot so far, then you will most likely enjoy the final film in this trilogy. I would recommend it.

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