“War for the Planet of the Apes” has many positive attributes, none more so than the appealing realism of walking, talking, and horseback-riding chimpanzees, gorillas, and one thoughtful orangutan. These special effects are the foundation to an enjoyable, entertaining, and fast-paced movie!
– Patrick King, REEL BRIEF
Every dog or cat owner, at one time or another, has found themselves in a what appears to be a role reversal with their family pet. Perhaps it’s the large canine taking ownership over the family room sofa, leaving the head of the household to find comfort elsewhere. Or maybe it’s the family feline refusing to budge on anyone’s time clock but their own. Looking down from another planet, observers would easily place these four-legged creatures at the top of Earth’s hierarchy. After all, us bottom feeders find ourselves chauffeuring these animals everywhere. Taking this fight for supremacy to the extreme is this reboot of the “Planet of the Apes” five-film series set back in the late 1960s and early 70s.
With a ferocious and heart-pounding first scene, “War for the Planet of the Apes” finds chimpanzee Caesar leading his reclusive tribe against human attacks deep inside the Muir Woods National Monument…located a dozen miles north of San Francisco. In this Man vs. Ape saga, both species are fighting each other and against certain extinction for the loser.
Fans of the original “Planet of the Apes” (1968), starring Charlton Heston as astronaut George Taylor, will find this latest threequel perplexing in the way humans are wholly depicted. These contemporary ape films, starting off with “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” (2011), “Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes” (2014), and now this survival of the fittest ride, all cast humans as the villainous, opposing force to the good primates. We’ve seen the bad humans use these apes as lab specimens before. Here, they’re used as slave labor or discarded altogether.
“War for the Planet of the Apes” has many positive attributes, none more so than the appealing realism of walking, talking, and horseback-riding chimpanzees, gorillas, and one thoughtful orangutan. These special effects are the foundation to an enjoyable, entertaining, and fast-paced movie! “War” is easily the most character-focused journey in the series since James Franco’s appearance in “Rise”. The clamor heard three years ago for award consideration to Andy Serkis (as Caesar) in “Dawn” should only intensify this Oscar season. Yes, he’s that good and effortlessly carries this intense showdown.
While the movie provides shocking special effects and timely humor to stop the hemorrhage of on-screen violence, the singular flaw in “War for the Planet of the Apes” is in its one-sided narrative. Nearly overshadowed completely is Woody Harrelson’s portrayal as the “Colonel”, a psychotic and dangerous front man to a band of henchmen opposing both certain humans and all primates.
Overall, “War” is time well spent at the theater and mirrors the Simian Flu virus that started the whole conflict. The spectacular 1968 start to the “Planet of the Apes” franchise has now evolved to the point where humans are regressing back into a primate state, mute and all—and we’re no longer the good guys.
“War for the Planet of the Apes” is rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi violence and action, thematic elements, and some disturbing images. Its running time is 2 hours and 20 minutes.
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