“War for the Planet of the Apes”: A Millennial’s Movie Review

Updated on July 17, 2017


War for the Planet of the Apes is the final film in the critically acclaimed ‘Modern Apes Trilogy’, following Rupert Wyatt’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Matt Reeves’ Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Reeves returns once again to the director’s chair, along with motion-capture maestro Andy Serkis as Caesar, leader of the apes. The film takes place roughly two years after Dawn, and follows Caesar as he fights to defend his primate community from a ruthless new enemy: The Colonel (played by Woody Harrelson). Driven by anger, hatred, and a desperation to protect his fellow apes, Caesar attempts to track down the Colonel and end the killing of apes once and for all.

The 9th Planet of the Apes film as of 2017, War joins the likes of Charlton Heston’s original Planet of the Apes (1968) and Tim Burton’s critically disappointing 2001 remake. But In an era of countless reboots, remakes, and sequels, the latest Apes trilogy shines brightly as an example of a franchise that has stood the test of time, excellently using CGI to create lifelike motion-capture apes, while benefitting from well-written screenplays and solid direction from Wyatt and Reeves. The result: A duo of box office successes which also received largely positive reviews from critics. Unsurprisingly, fans of the series will be hoping that War will continue, rather than break, the trend. Some critics have even suggested that the apes trilogy could become one of Hollywood’s best of all time if War is as good or better than its high-flying predecessors. Can Reeves and Serkis turn their bold ambitions into a closing entry everyone will go ape for, or will War fall short of expectations, joining many other ‘third films’ that have come before?

Initial Thoughts

War for the Planet of the Apes ends the trilogy in a satisfying way, with yet another solid screenplay and an excellent performance by Andy Serkis and company. The visual effects are as realistic as ever, while Matt Reeves’ focused direction and the plot’s unpredictability keeps the pacing tight and the viewer engaged. The film may be the best of the trilogy, though there are different viable arguments as to why each of the films should be considered ‘the best’. What is impressive with War (and the whole trilogy for that matter), is how consistent they are with the character of Caesar as well as the emotional changes between films, reflecting the changing environment of their world while staying true to the overall spirit of these set of films. Fans of the Apes franchise and those who have followed this latest trilogy will not want to miss the emotional conclusion to this incredible series.

Simian Superiority

Andy Serkis’ Caesar is once again the focal point of the story, and is easily the best part of War for the Planet of the Apes. The baby ape we meet from Rise of the Planet of the Apes has grown into a grizzled, battle-hardened war leader, the pain and suffering from the past 15 years visible in his eyes. Caesar’s character arc throughout the series is one to marvel at, which the film’s writers deserve full credit for. Serkis proves once again that he is the king of motion capture, putting in a strong, majestic performance as Caesar. Another great mo-cap performance is by Steve Zahn, who plays a chimp living in isolation that Caesar stumbles upon midway through the film. Zahn plays the role ever so often on the border of silliness, but this somehow ends up being endearing rather than derailing the film’s emotional train. But while we’re still on the topic of great performances, let’s talk about Woody Harrelson, who at first seems like what you’d expect from a cruel, ape-killing big baddie. But in one fantastically-crafted scene, we see that behind his villainous exterior is a compelling backstory that proves just how real the war is in the film. That war is not always fought by two sides, and that there are often no good or bad sides in war, only sides with different perspectives. Having all this in mind is director Matt Reeves, who surprises with a film that is less of an action-heavy slugfest involving apes, and more of a psychological war film. It is for this reason that the film is in many ways a more subdued, nuanced counterpart to its stunt-heavy predecessor Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

While the original Planet of the Apes asked the simple question: ‘What if apes ruled the world and humans devolved into an almost livestock-level organism?’, this modern apes trilogy shows us how our developed human society could reach such a point, as Caesar’s community of apes grow in numbers and intelligence, and thus, power to bring more change to their environment. War for the Planet of the Apes smartly shows how the apes gain increasing levels of humanity, while the humans gradually lose theirs through their never-ending struggle to exterminate all apes. Matt Reeves expertly conveys this message by helping us understand that the primary motive for every action made in the film is truly for the survival of each side’s race. Through his vision, we feel the hope in dystopia, giving us the sense that the apes’ story is approaching its conclusion, bringing with it a megapunch of melancholy.

Military Mediocrity

All these emotions are made significantly stronger by an excellent Michael Giacchino score, taking advantage of high notes to instil an aura of peace amidst the storm of war, a flame in the heart of a blizzard, and hope for the future in the face of overwhelming adversity. That said, the music does not hit 100% of the time, and this unfortunately occurs more in the third act, when the score becomes a tad too light and upbeat, breaking the riveting tension built up over the past hour. Furthermore, a noticeable number of scenes seem to depend heavily on the short-sightedness of the human soldiers, whether it’s the soldiers not noticing the apes tailing them on horseback, climbing close above them on wires, or even waltzing right into their camp unnoticed. This unfortunately develops into quite the ‘dumb security guard’ situation, and for all the film’s efforts to ground the story in reality, it becomes difficult to suspend disbelief that many times. Fortunately, these are minor issues overall, easily overwhelmed by the film’s many strengths.

Concluding Remarks

War for the Planet of the Apes is an entertaining and thought-provoking summer film, featuring amazing visual effects that should see it gain another Oscar nomination, as well as excellent performances all round. Thought it may not be the best of the apes trilogy depending on who you’re talking to, War is the film fans deserve, and will no doubt bring a tear to your eye if you have the time to rewatch the previous two apes films. Whether we get more apes films in the future is a question that may be answered tomorrow, two years from now, or maybe even decades later. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that Caesar is one of the better-developed characters we’ve gotten since the turn of the millennia, which will no doubt help Andy Serkis’ campaign for his first Academy Award (honorary or otherwise) in recognition of his brilliant and inspiring motion capture performances.

Overall Score: 8.5/10

War for the Planet of the Apes Trailer

Rate this Movie

5 out of 5 stars from 1 rating of War for the Planet of the Apes

Take the poll!

Which is your favourite entry in the modern Planet of the Apes trilogy?

See results


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Nick Oon profile imageAUTHOR

      Nick Oon 

      2 years ago from London

      Thank Ryan. Hope you saw it and liked it as much as I did!

    • Fullerman5000 profile image

      Ryan Fuller 

      2 years ago from Louisiana, USA

      The first two film were amazing. I love that this film seems to be just as good. I have not seen it yet but I am ready to see it. Thanks for sharing this review.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, reelrundown.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)