Review: 'War for the Planet of the Apes' ranks among top 2017 summer blockbusters

During a time of large-scale, special effect-filled, Hollywood films, “War for the Planet of the Apes” is one of the better quality sequels and ranks among the top 2017 summer blockbusters.

It’s well-crafted, emotional, and visually appealing. It's the third installment in the “Planet of the Apes” reboot series.

Following the events of “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” lead ape Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his genetically enhanced followers are caught in a war against the humans. Caesar faces off against the human leader, The Colonel (Woody Harrelson), while both sides fight for their survival, as their feud will ultimately determine the future of either race.

From the impressive special effects that include motion capture technology to the action, acting, music, emotional narrative, many are already calling this film one of the best chapters in one of the longest running, top movie series of all time. Sequels often have trouble matching up to the originals, but this one is just as good a standalone film as it is part of a series.

Director/co-writer Matt Reeves and co-writer Mark Bomback watched all of the prior “Planet of the Apes” films for inspiration, along with war movies, westerns, and even Star Wars’ “The Empire Strikes Back.” They took influences from films such as “Bridge on the River Kwai” and “The Great Escape,” applied Biblical themes and elements from “Ben-Hur” and “The Ten Commandments,” and even compared Caesar’s journey to find the Colonel to Clint Eastwood’s film, “The Outlaw Josey Wales.”

Reeves further describes Caesar’s role in the reboot series as follows: “the first film was very much about his rise from humble beginnings to being a revolutionary. The second movie was about having to rise to the challenge of being a great leader in the most difficult of times. This (final film) is going to be the story that is going to cement his status as a seminal figure in ape history, and sort of leads to an almost biblical status. He is going to become a "mythic ape figure, like Moses,” an idea to which critics have echoed as well.

As to be expected with a film like this, the running time is a bit long, and the apes use a type of sign language to communicate, with subtitles provided for the audience. This also seems to get a little old after a while. Like the previous films, Andy Serkis’ portrayal as Caesar is one of the strongest of the film, and while the rest of the cast is not made up of the usual big names, Harrelson, Steve Zahn, Judy Greer, Amiah Miller, Karin Konoval, and Terry Notary provide solid performances.

While most would assume this is the last chapter in the “Planet of the Apes” series, Serkis mentioned in an interview some time ago that the possibilities of further sequels were endless. More recently, a potential fourth film was confirmed to be in the works. If you’re familiar with the older “Apes” films, it’s interesting to see where these films leave off, as the reboot serves as arguably both a prequel and remake of sorts to previous films. Check out the newest chapter of this popular science fiction series, in theaters this weekend.

3.5 out of 5 stars.

“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. Running time is 2 hours and 22 minutes.

© 2017 WFAA-TV


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