This review was written by Anthony J Digioia. Follow him and his website here for more awesome reviews: SilverScreen Analysis
“WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES” is directed by Matt Reeves and stars; Andy Serkis, Amiah Miller, and Woody Harrelson. The story continues the saga of Caesar. Five-years after the events of the last film as his apes suffer a devastating loss. Things look bleak for the future of the apes, as Caesar struggles between doing what is best for his kind, or succumbing to the temptations of vengeance.
There is no doubt I have been so excited to see this film. I think the first two rebooted projects in the trilogy are both excellent for different reasons and watching the vision for this saga unfold has been absolutely compelling. I went into this movie hoping not to be let-down, and I walked out of the theater with a smile on my face from having seen the evolution of what is now arguably an all-time great trilogy. Not just a trilogy, but a rebooted trilogy which in the days of constant name recognition cash grabs is a monumental accomplishment.
The story was extremely well structured and started out incredibly fast. You can immediately be pulled into the tension of the plot. And without time spent on build-up, this movie feels like you are jumping on a train while it’s racing down the tracks. From the first minute, it grabs your attention and it will not let go until the end credits roll. It builds the scenarios and situations very effectively and keeps things moving as it progresses through the tense dynamics. Which was absolutely riveting as you ride the stories impactful journey along with the apes. This script creates suspense, heart-ache, tense action, some lighthearted amusement, and emotionally moving drama, and it weaves all of these elements together in to one smooth, well-crafted story.
As you would come to expect the special-effects and motion-capture work were excellent. Like the films prior, the apes are so lifelike you can connect with them as if they were human characters which adds so much to the connection you build with them, and the situations they face in this story. Andy Serkis once again delivers an amazing performance as Caesar and his motions and mannerism were spot on once again. Serkis breathes life into this digital character, and he raises the bar of effort once again.
Woody Harrelson definitely delivered what was needed as the Colonel but I do think his performance will be hit-or-miss with people. As for his performance itself, it was very good and he definitely gives this film and serviceable antagonist. But he did feel like Woody Harrelson more than the Colonel. So if you are a fan of his, this will not bother you as much. However, if you are not the biggest Harrelson fan you will have a hard time not seeing Woody as opposed to the role he was portraying.
The locations and settings were all perfectly selected to immerse you in the world of the story. The film also uses weather elements to its advantage as well as a diversity in the backdrops to give the story a much deeper feel in terms of the scope everything. It also incorporates some nice Easter eggs and subtle homages to the original film, and it was nice because it wasn’t in-your-face. Which showed some thought behind putting them in and not simply just for fan service. The musical score was also incredible and does an effective job of building tension and suspense when needed and it really felt like the old era of movie scores.
As for some minor nitpicks, and they were minor. Would have been in the development of the Colonel played by Harrelson. I felt his character ended up with the needed depth, but I think it could have been conveyed possibly a little sooner in the story. There was also a slight feeling of melodrama at times that I thought could have been edited a bit but none of these issues hinder the overall fun. This was still a great cinematic experience, as it was.
“War for the Planet of the Apes” was fantastic. It’s a beautifully crafted film that tells an impactful story, and I definitely recommend checking it out when it hits theaters and I do say IMAX is worth the extra couple bucks.