Film Review ~ War For The Planet of the Apes

Go Ape! 

War For the Planet of the Apes (2017)

Written by Michael Burk, Film Critic: HMTV, Globe Miami Times for UltraStar Multi-tainment Center at Ak-Chin Circle

As an avid fan of the original “Ape” films, some might say I’m biased. The 1968 Planet of the Apes, being my second favorite science fiction film of all time aside. There is such a thing as a bad ape flick. Tim Burton’s 2001 misfire of a remake for instance.
But not all reboots have to be bad.

2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes was a welcomed, intelligent & thought-provoking way to refresh the franchise. A film that under normal circumstances would be hard to follow. But then came the “Dawn.” To most, a superior sequel by all means. Not a carbon copy of its predecessor, but a true evolving of the story. New director, Matt Reeves, made a big impact on critics & audiences alike. After the success of that film, the announcement of Reeves immediate continuance with the franchise was surprising but greeted with great enthusiasm by the fans.

“War” is that rare third film that doesn’t retread the same story for the sake of coming full circle. Neither is it a tale where the filmmakers have run out of ideas. While this may very well be the last part of a trilogy as it’s being marketed, it doesn’t necessarily mean the story has to stop here.

This new story begins not long after the last film. Our lead ape, Caesar, played magnificently once again by Andy Serkis, is trying to continue his life of peace amongst the woods. But the humans, one in particular, known only as The Colonel (Woody Harrelson) won’t let that tranquility remain. Towards the beginning of the film, a tragedy befalls Caesar. So this story is not simply just a war of man vs ape. But truly a battle for Caesar’s soul. Will he choose vengeance over mercy? I guess you’ll have to see the film to find out.

“War” is a surprisingly emotional journey. The film boasts top notch performances from the entire cast, ape & man alike. Even a minor character like the human marksman, Preacher, will have you guessing which side he’ll choose in the end. It also has the one thing I missed most in the last film. Humor. Something the original films always kept firmly in place. Those films were fun! Here we have a new character, Bad Ape, played by Steve Zhan. Under less sure-fire hands, he could have ruined the film for most people. Nobody wants a Jar Jar Binks in this ape universe. Gladly, he works out fine. A little comic relief doesn’t hurt here & there.

If the trailers make it seem so, this is no retread of the last film. It’s without a doubt, one of the best third films made in any franchise, ever. Maybe even the best, in my opinion. It’s got heart, humor, action, great performances & an interesting story. Plus, composer Michael Giacchino’s score isn’t too shabby, either. Actually, it’s much of an improvement over what he did in the last film, as well as much more impressive than his scores for the last couple Marvel & Disney works he scored.

If you liked the last two entry’s in this series, please go check out “War For The Planet of the Apes.” I promise you won’t be disappointed.

1/2 ~ Michael Burk Film Critic: HMTV, Globe Miami Times.