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[Review] ‘War for the Planet of the Apes’ is the Perfect End to a Great Trilogy

When I think of perfect trilogies, a few franchises jump into my head immediately. The original Star Wars movies, Evil Dead and Indiana Jones are the first to come to mind. When I walked into the movie theater to watch Rise of the Planet of the Apes six years ago, Hell, even when I walked in to see Dawn of the Planet of the Apes three years ago, I had no idea what sort of legacy this prequel trilogy would leave. As the introduction of War for the Planet of the Apes concluded, I knew right then and there that this series will go down in film history as one of the greats, and I know I’ll remember it for years to come.

It picks up after the shaky realization at the end of Dawn that after Koba attacked the humans, they will never let the apes live in peace. The apes, still lead by Andy Serkis’ Caesar are looking for a place to migrate to far away from the humans who are constantly pounding at their gates. After an attack from the film’s antagonist, The Colonel (Woody Harrelson), Caesar refuses to run any longer and the war officially begins.

I think the biggest reason that War takes the throne as the best of the three films is thanks to the fact that the vast majority of its screen time belongs to Caesar and the apes. In the first two films, it was the constant exposition dumps from human characters that caused them to drag, but in War, The Colonel’s motivations are reserved to a single scene, and Harrelson carries it confidently and frighteningly. In fact, setting aside one five second scene of glaring and unnecessary product placement, there isn’t a single one that feels off or doesn’t work – thanks in no small measure to the near-perfect motion capture at play in War.

I’ve always thought the apes in these films looked great, even if little Caesar in Rise is starting to show his age, but the work that the animators have done in War rivals, and at many points surpasses the likes of last year’s live action remake of The Jungle Book. Beyond the lifelike visuals of the apes, the environmental shots aren’t too shabby to look at either. The plot almost mirrors the video game The Last of Us, taking the audience through lush west coast forests and snowy mountain lodges, and each new location is prettier to look at than the last. Watching our civilized world peel away around military strongholds and giant dams have been a visual treat, but in War the earth that we know is all but gone.

If I was held at gunpoint and forced to pick one aspect of War that stood out the most to me, it would be Michael Giacchino’s score. Even though some of the film’s best moments don’t feature any music at all, when the soundtrack kicks in, it’s impossible not to feel exactly what the characters on screen are feeling. It calls back to the films that came before this franchise almost flawlessly all while feeling fresh and new with its string-heavy beats. Much like I did after seeing Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, I’ll be listening to War’s score on the way to work for weeks or even months to come.

I will admit that when Steve Zahn’s Bad Ape made his debut, I sucked in a sharp breath of air and held it all through his first scene. It’s a gritty war film after all, and comedic relief in such a bleak and admittedly dark story can go wrong so easily. Fortunately, Zahn was more than up to the task, and his character effortlessly nestled his way into my favorites club right alongside Caesar, Rocket and the compassionate Orangutan, Maurice. Finally, even the human child character played by Amiah Miller tugged at my heart strings after she joins Caesar and his crew.

I thought 2017 peaked with Logan, the last film I gave a perfect review on Bloody Disgusting. I’m both surprised and happy that I was proven wrong only three months later. War for the Planet of the Apes is not only the best film in the prequel trilogy that debuted the better half of a decade ago, it’s a masterpiece and one of the best films I’ve ever seen. Do yourself a favor and check it out as soon as possible.



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COMMENTS

32 Comments
  • Necro

    So is there more films to come?

    • zombie84_41

      LOL prob be this is hollywood we talking about. I am still waiting for another super marios damn-it. Or maybe a good old fashion re-boot of night of the comet that be fun That I wouldn’t mind seeing even if its my all time fav movie next to return of the living dead.

      • Necro

        Yeah very true

        • zombie84_41

          If you haven’t seen the movie yet its soooo amazing. Really is an astonishing film. Cgi is breathtaking everything about it is perfect if doesn’t win an award for something we know the Oscars are truly rigged.

          • Saturn

            Indeed, Serkis was fantastic as Caesar, and if he doesn’t at least get a nomination then we know something in the water no longer computes.
            The CGI? Some of the best I’ve ever seen – when done well CG has it’s place, definitely.

          • zombie84_41

            Yeah Serkis he really does need to win something, this movie should win some award too. But it prob won’t.

          • Necro

            Alright good to hear! Yeah these are the films that CGI is amazing to see. I think the Oscars have been rigged for a very long time.

          • zombie84_41

            esp last years lol

    • Dead-behavoir

      I wouldn’t be upset if they rebooted the series or did a continuation of the Apes dominating the rest of the Planet.

      • Saturn

        It would be interesting to see another bunch of primates turning up in the next movie – psychotic baboons please!
        Shakma’s Revenge!

    • Saturn

      It was announced in 2016 that they are actually already starting work on the next movie.
      Hopefully they can keep the quality up, as I’m pleasantly surprised just how good this trilogy has been (coming from an old skool fan of the original movies and tv shows),

  • Dead-behavoir

    The best trilogy!
    WAR is not only the best film of the year! Probably one of the best movies I’ve ever seen since the Dark Knight, faithful to the original source for a prequel to the Planet of the Apes(1968)
    #ApesTogetherStrong

    • Ocelot006 .

      It’s definitely not a prequel buddy.

      • Dead-behavoir

        Alot of reference throughout the whole trilogy leads to the orginal(1968), might not be excatly,but basically it is buddy!

        • Ocelot006 .

          There’s references but that’s about it. This isn’t all leading to the ’68 film. It’s going it’s own direction. The ’68 film has Escape and Conquest and Battle to show what lead to all that.

          So no, not a prequel. Different continuity with references. Nova in War is definitely not the same one from the originals as there is quite a years time gap.

          Have you actually watched the originals?

          • Dead-behavoir

            Yeah no shit on the time gap, obviously not the same characters Duh! But after the Humans caged/slave and beaten the Apes, leads in that direction, just tells me that Caesar’s baby son Cornelius will grow up to hate Humans cause they took his family, plus where they migrate, and starts their own planet, as the virus turns
            MAN into animals unable to speak, basically sets it up as if it was bruh lol you probably watched YouTube videos, I’m only talking about the orginal film, not escape,conquest etc. they lead in different directions homie

          • Dead-behavoir

            But most likely guna do another reboot of the film anyways

          • Ocelot006 .

            The time gap is mighty important. This is a reboot franchise. Not a prequel franchise. Not really up for debate. That’s what it is

  • Rohan

    SPOILERS
    Dawn was way better. Everyone in Dawn had a reason for what they did, humans and apes alike. Now it’s been reduced to ‘people bad, ape good’. The people are like nazis, none of them redeemable in the slightest. They build up one person like he is going to change his mind about the apes, but then he ends up being the guy who kills Caesar. All the humans end up being assholes, whereas in Dawn there was the diplomatic people who tried to reason with the apes, and the apes are the reason for the conflict! The apes aren’t good guys! The apes enslave humanity! It would have been better if they showed the apes degradation into becoming more human, the evil of humanity showing in the apes, but no. It’s just kind of a road movie for one half then a prison escape movie for the other. Not disappointing but definitely not as good.

    • pablitonizer

      There was never a war against apes, when the world was almost destroyed the conflict was still humans vs humans! It’s a perfect example of our humanity, all caesar wanted was for apes to live and this was his inner war between his love for humans and love for his kind, they never slaved humans. Caesar was full of conflicts and motivations, so I find many reasons in this film. Regarding apes bad, there was never an explanation for that so I’m guessing there are other apes out there that are not under caesar’s command that are in fact bad ones and probably they will face each other in the following film.I guess u wanted an extreme and bloody war and actually the war goes in the inside

      • Rohan

        I was just expecting a better lead in to the original film. The monkeys still look like monkeys, and they are all peaceful, which is opposite of how they act in the original. It is the same group of apes too, because of Nova and Cornelius.

  • THE God

    Just watched the 2nd installment of this trilogy to prepare myself for the new film. I must say, very well done, very emotional, visually stunning, and well written. Just wondering if this is all supposed to lead up to the original film?

    • Saturn

      Yes it does.
      There could still be something like 15 years or so between War and the original, so it’s quite possible that there will be other movies to come also (I seem to remember they announced a 4th last years some time).

      If you recall, in Rise, there was a news report of the Icarus taking off into space (although the dates used don’t tally up with the original movie, with a little intelligent retconning we can deal with that) which of course was the name of the spaceship that George Taylor was aboard.

      I actually wonder though whether or not we will get a remake of the original (which will was away the bad taste from the previous remake) movie by the same film makers?
      I’d be interested in that – but obviously they would need a new twist. I say SPACE ZOMBIES.

      • Ocelot006 .

        These movies are confirmed to not be leading the original film. We already had prequels for those. This series is headed in its own direction.

        The original took place in 3978. Quite a long ways from fifteen years.

        • Saturn

          Actually, yeah, I forgot the original had the crew arrive back 2000 years after leaving Earth. Good spot.

  • Ocelot006 .

    War For The Planet of The Apes needed some you know…..war. You get one battle between ape and man at the beginning and then humans fighting each other from a distance at the end. Overall the movie was pretty much Dawn but with some snow.

  • Master99

    I normally don’t complain about movies but I am bored, so what the heck. I thought this instalment was a little long and drawn out. Not bad overall, but it was a little boring at times. Not sure I want to watch again. I liked the other two films better.

  • Ocelot006 .

    These movies are called Planet Of The Apes which begs the question…..what the hell is going on in the rest of the PLANET beyond Northern California? Bad Ape was the tease but shouldn’t we have already been exploring the rest of the planet by movie number three?

    • Dead-behavoir

      They’ll probably call the next film the domination of the planet of the apes, because most of Humanity is wiped out so they probably explore the rest of the planet.

  • Ocelot006 .

    These last two movies would have been much better had they made the human characters more three dimensional as opposed to making them 2D to some how open up the depth of the apes by taking away depth from the humans. Poor decision I’d say.

  • GunsOfNavarone

    I think the inclusion of Bad Ape was fitting. It was such a bleak and emotional ride that you needed a little levity. I also thought his comedic element was bitter sweet, everything he did was because of the way he’d been trained and mishandled. Such a fantastic movie. It will also be interesting to see the series continue …. SPOILER … which looks to be based around Caesar’s son and Nova. I might be jumping the gun, but it looked as though those 2 characters were being set up for a future story.

  • Evan3

    I’ll never understand why I don’t see more people list Toy Story amongst the best film trilogies of all time. The only film trilogy I can think of that doesn’t have an obviously weaker entry than the rest.

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