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War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)

Review by CJ

Director:
Matt Reeves

Starring:
Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn, Amiah Miller, Karin Konoval, Terry Notary, Michael Adamthwaite

Other notable appearances:
Judy Greer, Aleks Paunovic

Running time:
140 minutes

Watch this if you liked:
Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

 

With humans hunting them at every outpost, it’s not long until Caesar’s (Serkis) family is found and attacked. When on a mission to avenge his murdered family, Caesar discovers that the army Colonel (Harrelson) who killed them has taken the whole ape tribe hostage.

While I thoroughly enjoyed the first two films in the Planet of the Apes reboot/prequel series, I found that War for the Planet of the Apes could use some ruthless editing. To get away with a film that runs for nearly two and a half hours, everything must be tight and entertaining. However, in War for the Planet of the Apes I often found myself bored by superfluous or overlong scenes.

The special effects in War for the Planet of the Apes are amazing. The various main sapien characters are unique and incredibly detailed.

I would have liked to see much more action. While there were a few action scenes, they were a slow burn and the real action didn’t kick in until close to the end. If you’re going to have a film about talking apes, you need to not take it quite so seriously and blow up a lot more things far more frequently.

The cast were fun to watch. War for the Planet of the Apes had Andy Serkis return to his role as Caesar, one of the first apes to be affected by the Alzheimer’s drug that caused the enhancement. His portrayal of the aged and battle weary Caesar is wondrous.

Woody Harrelson is fun to watch as the Colonel who becomes the focus of Caesar’s rage.

Special kudos to Steve Zahn, who is the newest member of Caesar’s tribe. It took me far longer than it should have to pick his voice, but he does a remarkable job. Zahn’s character “Bad Ape” is also one of the two heart warming additions to the line-up, with the second being a human child portrayed by Amiah Miller.

Overall, aside from some pacing and engagement issues I found War for the Planet of the Apes to be a well made and well casted science fiction film. It is ideal for viewers who like smart science fiction, but who can — conversely — also suspend disbelief enough to get past the talking apes. Seeing the first two films in this series is a must or major plot points will not make sense.

Rating:

“I did not start this war. I offered you peace. I showed you mercy. But now you’re here. To finish us off … for good.”

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